Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Maria Ressa and the Six Degrees from Osama Bin Laden

In  September 2001, the world witnessed one of the most horrifying and life changing moments in history when terrorists hijacked four planes with two of them crashing into the Twin Towers in New York, one in the Pentagon and the other plane in a field in Pennsylvania intended for the White House in Washington D.C. Since then, the word terrorism has been used to describe member of the Al-Qaeda movement, an Islamic group behind the in what is now called the 9/11 attacks.

A year after America, Indonesia's vacation spot Bali was victimized by terrorist. The Bali Bombing in October 12, 2002 killed tourists from Australia and Indonesia which is said to be the worst in the country. It was considered as the 9/11 of Southeast Asia. Members of the Jemaah Islamiyah said to be connected with Al-Qaeda have been tried and arrested.

More violent events followed. The London bombing in 2005, another attack in Indonesia in 2005 and the Mumbai bombing in 2008. All are believed to be the work of Islamic terrorists and all are believed to be connected to one of the most notorious terrorist of all time, Osama Bin Laden who was killed last year.

Terrorism was the topic of Maria Ressa's book 10 Days, 10 Years: From Bin Laden To Facebook which was launched last October 12 at Powerbooks, Makati. The author, a former CNN reporter and ABS-CBN News head has documented terrorism in her 25 years of coverage. But writing the book, a follow-up to Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of an Al-Qaeda's Newest Center of Operations In Southeast Asia was the most challenging for her as it involved ABS-CBN in the persons of anchor Ces Drilon and her crew composed of Jimmy Encarnacion and Angel Valderama, who were kidnapped in June 2008. At the time of the kidnapping, she was the head of the News and Current Affairs of the network.

During the book launch, Maria was almost emotional but joked that it was six degrees of separation from Ces to Bin Laden. In her book, Maria wrote that many of the bandits involved in the kidnapping of Ces, Jimmy and Angel were trained by those involved in some of the terrorist attacks in the US such as Ramzi Yousef, the man behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The book also narrates how Islamic extremists work through social network to continue their acts of terror.

"It’s a very emotional topic, this one. It was cathartic to write the book, even more so to actually place it in a global context," Maria told the audience present at the book launch.

Copies of Maria's book she signed for me and my friend Worley

Maria together with anchor Ces Drilon and her sister Grech who was part of the crisis team
In the book, Maria wrote that she was no longer a reporter during the kidnapping but she was about to embark on her most challenging task to date.
Maria signing a copy of her book

"I was no longer just reporting the actions of other people; I was leading our crisis team toward the single goal of getting our people home safely," she narrated.

Ces, who attended the launch was also emotional as she read excerpts from the journal she wrote during her captivity. Four years since the nightmare of her, Jimmy and Angel's experience, the three would get together and spend time, grateful that they were given a second chance.

While the book may be heavy for some to read, it is worth grabbing especially in the fast-changing world we live in. Social Media has become powerful and you may never know that you are just a degree away from a terrorist plotting it's next attack.

Thank you Borj Borja

By now, people realize how life is short that many of us tend to abuse it. Some are fortunate to live their life to the fullest while others are not lucky.

Last week while scrolling through the timeline and Facebook statuses, many of us were caught off-guard when one of our fiercest sis Borj Borja died. When I asked Jasmin the cause of death, she was informed that it was due to pneumonia. None of us saw this coming. Borj was one of the most active and liveliest fierce in the group. In fact, Divine in her twitter account shared that Borj was one of her first callers when BeckyNights started airing online. I was fortunate to have known Borj for a short time and I have to say that he was a person I would love to be spending more time with.

I remembered the first time when I went to meet the fierces in Makati. It was the Christmas party Divine asked Jasmin to organize. I met Borj and we really hit off. We talked again during Fashion Week and I snapped  a picture of him for this blog. It was through his account that I would get to know him more. Active in the cause of AIDS awareness in the country, a member of the Dragon Boat team, these were some of the things I was slowly discovering about Borj. When I pitched the idea of revamping the website with some photos, I immediately asked Borj to come in as creative director because I felt with him, he'll be able to see the vision I wanted for this blog. It never pushed through because of busy schedules but if he was alive today, I'm sure he would still go for it.

A week since his death, alot of us are still digesting the fact the he's gone. Jake, Matt and Buern were so stunned when they heard the news and even dedicated a moment for Borj in last week's episode of the show. But life must go on and for sure, Borj would tell us that as well.

Borj where ever you are, continue to watch over us. You will live forever in our hearts and you will remain a fierce to the end.

Taken at the last Philippine Fashion Week, the last time I would see Borj.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When You Are In Charge...

No one  said it was going to be easy. While I was ecstatic about being the coordinator for DiabetEASE magazine, I know that errors from the magazine will become my responsibility. True enough, to my dismay, I overlooked two errors and it was for accreditation. To me, nothing more is important than saying thank you to the people who made it possible but to misspell them was totally different.

I will not deny...I was on the verge of crying. I was very frustrated. Here I was given the opportunity to do a magazine and I ended up with two errors. While it's common to make a mistake in publications, credibility is always a cloud hanging on you. I was so shaken and horrified when I tell the EIC but a mistake is a mistake and I must take responsibility for it.

I was often told that the mistakes you make, the lessons from it will make you sharp and focus on what happens next. I was not happy about it but what is important is that I acknowledge my mistake, apologize and do an erratum and hope it will not happen again.