SEA Games? Here? Really?

Five weeks ago, I had no idea that the South East Asian Games were taking place right here in the Philippines. In fact, it took a Singaporean friend’s excitement over the SEA Games to make me aware of it.

On Sunday, November 27, the SEA Games will officially commence. For the past four weeks I’ve seen banners and billboards from Globe Telecom celebrating its status as official telecom partner of the SEA Games. this whole week at UP Diliman the Pre-SEA Games Conference on Sports Science was held at the Film Center and Bahay ng Alumni. This morning as I walked through Holiday Inn Galleria’s lobby to take the elevator down to my car (I’d come from Gold’s Gym Galleria), I saw that the hotel was an official partner hotel for the SEA Games as well: part of the delegation from Singapore was checking in at the front desk. I think they were the badminton team, since there were several Yonex badminton racquet bags lying on a table near them.

Still, I don’t feel much fanfare about these Games. The Malaysian Star reports that you wouldn’t even know the biggest sporting event in the region was going to kick off here in Manila.

From the Malaysian Star:
The planes into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport are packed with incoming athletes and officials. But step out of the airport, and it’s just another day in the town.

There are hardly any banners to herald the 23rd SEA Games, which begin in two days. There is no excitement and even the mascot, the eagle, is nowhere in sight.

At the airport, though, singing girls and bands welcome the Games “families” and Immigration and Customs clearance is a breeze while policemen and security personnel greet visitors with big smiles.

The Malaysian Star also reports that the Malaysian athletes are being crammed into small hotel rooms (three athletes to a 10-foot by 10-foot room) even though the Olympic Council of Malaysia is paying for the accommodations.

While I’m honored that the Philippines is hosting the Games, I’m embarrassed that they come at this time of political turmoil and financial belt-tightening. That the SEA Games are being used as a diplomatic tool (akin to India and Pakistan’s “cricket diplomacy”) isn’t much of a morale-booster, either.

To know more about the Philippine involvement with the SEA Games, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has a good write-up on it. The article doesn’t have what I really want to know, though, and that is: where are they going to hold the Games’s tennis tournament? Ü

UPDATE: a fellow tennis-obsessed friend of mine found two articles (Manila Standard and Inquirer) on Cecil Mamiit and Eric Taino representing the Philippines at the SEA Games tennis tournament in Rizal Memorial Stadium (where else?). The two Fil-Ams play on the ATP Tour and represented the US up until this year.

Vote for Her!

The last time I focused totally on watching an international beauty pageant was the Miss Universe pageant held here in Manila many years ago. After that, I didn’t bother to keep up with the whole shebang of glitz and glamour. (Well, I made an exception for Miriam Quiambao.)

Ganns kind of changed that for me in the case of this year’s Miss World. He’s been writing enthusiastically about the Philippine candidate, Carlene Aguilar. I didn’t care much whether we won, but when Ganns posted that most oddsmakers find her the favorite, it got me thinking that the Philippines actually has a serious chance of winning. I mean, Miss International was won this year by Precious Lara Quigaman, one of ours. Miss World actually solicits votes for candidates from viewers; if we could just vote enough to get Carlene into the final… The last time I tried to vote, however, the Miss World site asked for a credit card; voting was on a pay basis.

Then one morning, I spotted a commercial on ABC5 detailing how people could vote through their cellphones. It took me a few days more before I actually went ahead and voted, but here’s how to vote. I’m duplicating info from Ganns’s site, but I think that voting instructions should get as much exposure as possible.

  • Globe subscribers: text “mw 114” to 2345.
  • Smart subscribers: text “mw 114” to 2441.
  • Both networks charge P2.50 per SMS.

Vote now! Vote often! Vote for Carlene Aguilar!

Roadkill

(A post not for the squeamish.)

When I was around nine years old, I rode bicycles with my cousins every time I visited them. We only rode them on the street they lived on, but it was a long street with lots of obstacles in the way–a road that on both sides sloped downward into a canal, driveways we could pedal up and down on.

The most disgusting obstacles, of course, were the frogs that had been haplessly squished by car wheels. Some of them had been there for more than a few weeks and had been run over repeatedly, leaving behind a flat hide that was nearly indistinguishable from the road around it. I’d be cycling on top of one before I could manage to see and dodge it, and I frequently wondered whether people scraped these off the road with a shovel or just let them disintegrate.

These days, I drive a car on more than one street. I’ve found that there are more than just frogs on the blacktop. Ü

Cats are probably the most common dead animals you see on the roads of the Philippines. We may not have big-antlered deer that freeze in front of oncoming headlights, but cats seem to be fine substitutes. There are whole cats, half cats, pulverized cats, and leather. Yes, sometimes the road cleanup crews don’t get to the carcasses. In time, the heat of the sun and the pressure of wheels mashing into the pavement turn the cat into a lovely piece of hide.

But let’s not forget about dogs. They’re not as prevalent as cats on the roads I travel, but there was this one time I had to swerve around a dog lying paws up. The poor expired canine lay there for two whole weeks before finally being cleaned off the road.

The same day the dog disappeared, I narrowly missed turning a cat carcass into leather.

Plagiarism and Blogs

I stumbled across this lovely food blog today, called Market Manila. However, it wasn’t the food stuff that intrigued me, but the entries concerning an unauthorized publication of one of the owner’s pictures in the country’s best-read daily newspaper.

November 18, 2005:
In the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday (page C4) and on their on-line website (both with a readership numbering in the millions on a local and global scale, compared with my modest base of 2-3,000 wonderful and loyal readers) an article by James Anthony R. Ceniza on Yema Balls features a stunning photograph of a yema sitting on an unwrapped pink cellophane wrapper…. The problem is that the photo is EXACTLY like a Marketmanila photograph that I took on April 16 (shown here at right) of a yema I had purchased from the Salcedo Saturday Market and which was featured in my own post on yema. And the other photograph used in the article is exactly like the photograph of yema by fellow food blogger Karen at Pilgrims Pots & Pans…

Yikes. MarketMan has a follow-up post about how he and the Inquirer are trying to resolve the issue. Micketymoc has put together pictorial evidence of the plagiarism and Sassy Lawyer recaps it.

The Inquirer is keeping mum on the issue right now, although they did take down the photos. The only coverage I’ve seen on this is entirely from prominent Pinoy blogs. Blog power, indeed.

UPDATE: Inquirer writes:

IN LIEU of the PDI Family Recipes Contest winner this week, we are reprinting these two photos, which appeared with the winning melt-in-your-mouth yema balls recipe in this section (Nov. 17, p. C4), to properly credit them to two food weblogs.

Both photos were submitted by James Anthony Ceniza with the yema recipe. It has come to the attention of the Inquirer that he took the photo of the yema with the pink wrapper from the food weblog Market Manila (marketmanila.com), and the other photo from the food weblog The Pilgrims Pots & Pans (karen.mychronicles.net/?p=53. Mr. Ceniza has apologized to the owners of these food weblogs for the unauthorized use of their photos.

Not quite an apology, but at least an acknowledgement of what happened.

Music

Today, Marielle and I stopped by Eastwood City because several major record companies were holding a sale of audio and video CDs. Yesterday she had already bought a copy of Lifehouse’s second album “Stanley Climbfall” priced at 100 pesos, so I was excited to see what else I could find at that bargain-basement price.

What’s ironic is that a few hours before that, I was at Robinsons Galleria downloading music files off Limewire. For some people this sort of behavior might be contradictory; as the ads want to have it, “Piracy is illegal.”

I don’t necessarily consider downloading music as piracy, though. I don’t download to make profit or to dodge having to buy the artists’ CDs; I use Limewire to find extremely rare tracks that didn’t even exist on commercially-released CDs, or to determine whether an artist’s album is worth buying. In the case of Gavin deGraw’s “Chariot Stripped” two-disc special edition, I haven’t seen a single copy in local record stores, so I downloaded the acoustic disc one afternoon. I’d still like to have an original of that album eventually, since my interest in it was piqued by the downloaded songs.

But what choice does one have when legitimate copies of music CDs come with hidden software that cripples your computer? On October 31, the news broke that Sony Music had packaged software into their CDs for copy protection purposes. I don’t blame them for trying, but the issue wasn’t copy protection; the issue was that Sony had used rootkit technology to hide the software. According to Mark Russinovich, the person who discovered Sony’s doings, “[r]ootkits are cloaking technologies that hide files, Registry keys, and other system objects from diagnostic and security software, and they are usually employed by malware attempting to keep their implementation hidden…” Russinovich detected the rootkit and removed it painstakingly, but this resulted in his computer losing access to its CD-ROM drives.

After Russinovich reported this in his blog, the issue snowballed; Boing Boing has a timeline of events, but basically the rootkit was discovered to serve a more insidious purpose: it opened a backdoor into the infected system, which trojans and other malicious programming could use to install themselves undetected or to play havoc with the system. Sony’s program also violated privacy rights of the people who had bought these discs legitimately; once installed in the system, the program reported disc usage back to Sony, though the company denies paying attention to this data.

Sony confounded matters even further by providing an “uninstaller” of the rootkit. Unfortunately, one was required to provide personal information before downloading the uninstaller, and the additional program didn’t actually do anything to remove the rootkit, but only made it visible. Additionally, the uninstaller opened an even bigger security hole in systems where it was installed. And the End-User License Agreement is even worse than these security holes: here are the conditions you must agree to before you can even listen to the CD.

Note that none of these things would have happened if the consumers had simply just downloaded the songs file-by-file off peer-to-peer networks. I’m not advocating illegal behavior, but Sony’s deeds were a serious disservice to the people who trusted them and attempted to do the right thing by buying original CDs. Here’s a full list of the infected CDs from Sony.

And since I’m supposed to be a good mass comm student, I have to mention the media angle to this issue. Apparently CNN failed to pick up the story in the early days of the controversy, in stark contrast to the tech news sites that were abuzz with it. A conspiracy theory attributes this to CNN being part of Time Warner and the RIAA (the industry body that is attempting to rein in digital piracy of audio and video).

As for me, I was able to find a good CD at the sale. One hundred pesos for “Long Gone Before Daylight,” The Cardigans’s fourth album. Ü