St. Teresa of Avila, one of two women who became a Doctor of the (Catholic) Church, once said these words, which legendary American writer and New York high-society fixture Truman Capote used as the title of his unfinished novel “Answered Prayers.”
She couldn’t have been more spot on. More than 400 years after St. Teresa’s death, as we become more entrenched in the so-called cyber age, her words remain surprisingly relevant.
I quote her in light of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which was signed into law less than a month ago by President Aquino. (Please read the details of the law, as it concerns almost all of us who regularly use and rant and ventilate via social networking sites, including blogs.)
Be careful what you wish for
First, I have to make a confession. At one point in my life, not too long ago, I fervently wished for such a law—although not as comprehensive, antiquated and draconian as the one we have now—to be passed. Well, it seems, my prayers have been answered. Allow me to put that episode into perspective.
Sen. Tito Sotto may claim to have been the first high-profile public official to be “cyber bullied” after he was caught twice plagiarizing the words of blogger Sarah Pope and the late American Sen. Robert Kennedy in defense of his anti-RH stand, but as a journalist, I’ve also had my share of cyber bullying way before him.
The first one, pre-Facebook, was so crude that the fellow, who went by the names Michael Rivera/Ramon Valera Jr., sent a copy of his poison email to almost every public figure in the Philippine lifestyle scene. In his haste, he forgot (deliberately, most likely) to cc yours truly. If anything, it was the virtual equivalent of being barred from your own party.
(To the uniniated, the late Ramon Valera, is a National Artist for fashion. As the leading Filipino fashion designer of his time, he was the go-to guy of first ladies, socialites and movie queens in the ’50s and ’60s. So, imagine the nerve of this fellow to have assumed such a pseudonym.)
I can’t even begin to quote his long and circuitous litany of woes and accusations against me, but like most hate mails from people with too much time in their hands and nothing better to do with it, it was brimming with malice, non-sequiturs and outright lies.
Since he was in such a hurry to get it off his chest, Valera’s message was also laden with factual and grammatical errors as well as misspellings. Excuse me, I was almost tempted to answer back, but even a high school student writes better than you.
The gist of his letter accused me of playing favorites to the “over-confident trio” (OCT) of designers Ivar Aseron, Dennis Lustico and Joey Samson in my fashion reviews, at the expense of other “more deserving” designers belonging to the Young Designers’ Group.
Worse, he even imputed that I was getting free clothes from the “OCT,” which explained why I was biased in their favor. He claimed that I was even banned from entering the Forbes Park residence of Chito Madrigal, when she staged a reunion fashion show of her La Concha group
consisting of designers and models.
They were all lies, of course. And unless I had morphed into a cross-dresser, getting free clothes from Lustico was highly unlikely, as the guy only makes women’s wear.
Since I didn’t know who the hell was maligning me, there was no way I could write a rebuttal on the pages of the Inquirer. Besides, since it was of no public interest, my then editor, if I remember right, thought it wise not to give the guy the satisfaction of being talked about in mainstream media.
My good friend Cecile Zamora of Chuvaness fame offered her blog as a venue for me to air my side. Before I knew it, my then PDI colleague Jenni Epperson was also offering her blog Mabuhaygirl for the same purpose.
Since it was done through email, the best way to answer it is also via online, Jenni said. True enough, I was heartened to receive a number of positive feedback generated by both blogs. Not a few vouched for my integrity, while a young woman in the PR biz named
Angelarms19 even described me as a “great” writer. ’Di naman (not really)!
“Alex V. is one of my idol writers ever. He’s a really great writer. When I was in PR, my supervisor would make me read his writings and use them as reference in terms of ideas and format. Galing (great)! I’d like to think that he helped me with MY own writing. It just saddens me that this happened,” Angelarms19 wrote.
Wow, ang sarap naman pakinggan (it was like music to my ears)!
(Coming up next, my answer to Ramon Valera Jr. as it appeared sometime in April 2007 in both Chuvaness and Mabuhaygirl blogs.)