(Conclusion) JUST when I was about to unfriend Raoul Ramirez, who, by the way, made his Facebook account public for everyone to see, I received queries from well-meaning friends in Manila while I was in Florida that a certain Tina Herrera, a supposed Philippine Fashion Week (PFW) insider, had joined the fray (nakisawsaw in Filipino) by spreading rumors on Facebook that I was sued by a “joint collaboration” of architects. True to form, Ramirez reposted Herrera’s shout out (see series of screen captures below).
Really, where was the subpoena? To top it all, she made it appear that she had it on good authority that a group of advertisers had already boycotted the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the paper I work for, because of my “ignorance.”
Now, if that wasn’t cyber bullying bordering on the libelous, I don’t know what is. When my boss, Thelma San Juan, learned about it, she just shrugged her shoulders and said: “What ad boycott? I would have been the first person to know about it.”
Obviously, Herrera, for all her efforts to look like a sophisticated and worldly smart-ass, doesn’t have a clue how the newspaper biz works. Unlike a tweet or shout out, stories written for a magazine or newspaper have to pass through at least 2 pairs of eyes, apart from the writer’s and proofreader’s, to get published. Normally, that would be the copy editor and the section editor. So, if I go down because of my, as Herrera so splendidly put it, “ignorance,” these editors go down, too. Why would they allow that? Now, who’s the ignorant fool between the two of us?
I couldn’t even recall who this Herrera character was until I remembered a chubby girl (as opposed to her creative and accomplished sisters, the svelte model Teresa and the petite stylist Rosario) with a ready smile and funny “laki ako sa West Coast” (I’m a West Coast kid) twang, who assisted me one time years ago during an interview I did featuring several Cal Carries models.
I don’t want to sound too melodramatic about it, but it dawned on me then that I had been very supportive of Cal Carries modeling agency back when PFW wasn’t that big yet. Cal Carries, an affiliate company of PFW, is the main supplier of models to the now biennial event.
As a journalist, I did my bit to support and promote Joey Espino, my former schoolmate in UST and big boss of Cal Carries and PFW, and his then fledgling enterprise.
Apart from featuring a couple of visiting executives from Ford Modeling Agency (the New York-based company behind Supermodels of the World), I even did a number of personality profiles featuring Cal Carries’ Supermodel hopefuls before they flew to the Big Apple to compete. In other words, I’ve been very receptive to them.
And what did I get? A “bitch slap,” as Herrera put it, from a member of Espino’s inner circle. I also couldn’t understand then where Herrera’s bile was coming from because I didn’t have any quarrel with her.
When I brought the matter up to PFW’s PR consultant for her to relay to Espino Herrera’s unfounded and personal attacks against me, the PR person told me that she (Herrera) was no longer connected with PFW. In short, they had no control over what Herrera says in public.
I also brought up Ramirez’s carpet-bombing efforts to malign me, to no avail. The PR said that she had already brought it to Espino’s attention, but I heard nothing from him about the matter up to now.
I took the PR’s word regarding Herrera’s outsider status until I discovered a few months later that it was nothing but one big fat lie. One evening in the office, I chanced upon a stack of enveloped materials from PFW (invitations, I guess) addressed to one of my colleagues.
And who was the sender? None other than Ms. Tina Herrera, Executive Producer, Philippine Fashion Week. Well, so much for being an outsider.
Before I end this tale of tawdry and baseless Facebook shout outs, allow me to share with you certain nuggets of wisdom I gathered from this episode.
1. Certain people may say bad and false things about you, whether you deserve it or not, but don’t despair. You’d always have true friends who would support and come to your defense. I got wind of Herrera’s tall tale, for instance, from a friend who was also her Facebook friend. That friend even extended me the courtesy of screen capturing Herrera’s diatribe. 😀 (I still have quite a number of screen captures, Ramirez, in case you want me to display to the rest of the world how ugly your mind is and how poor you are in English. I’m not that ruthless, but if you force me to, I’m capable of doing strange things that not even you are capable of imagining.)
2. Never write off a journalist by inventing stories about him just because he said or wrote something that displeased you. Yoo-hoo, after the “suits” and “ad pullout,” I’m still very much around, Herrera!
3. Note to self: Always take the word of certain individuals, publicists included, with a grain of salt.
4. After a careful reflection, I now know where Herrera’s vitriol is coming from. It’s safe to say that it’s a reflection of her boss’ thinking regarding journalists writing critical reviews of their featured talents’ works. Otherwise, where would she get the gumption to post unverified information designed to destroy my credibility? Either that, or she’s simply one big unthinking fool!
If that were the case, I guess PFW organizers should just wait for members of foreign media (and buyers), which have yet to come after nearly 20 years of being in business, to descend on their twice-a-year fashion pasiklaban.
5. You can always show your displeasure over what you feel is an unfair review without making an ass of yourself. Should you insist on being coarse in public like Ramirez, you would just end up calling attention not only to yourself, but also to the kind of upbringing and “miseducation” you had.
6. And bitches, show a little respect and gratitude to media people who have helped you along the way. You may not always agree with them, but it pays to always bite your tongue and win them over to your side. In 50 years, no one would remember or even care about how seemingly smart you were and how cool your West Coast accent was.
7. The Cybercrime Prevention Act, as its critics have already pointed out, would invariably shield erring government officials and public figures by suppressing genuine discourse and citizen journalism through social media. In other words, it’s one flawed law that lumped together patently criminal acts like hacking, identity theft and child pornography with debatable ones like libel.
Put it to the test
8. All that power to criticize and sway public opinion is bound to shift back to what certain bloggers derisively call “traditional” media a.k.a. newspapers and broadcast news. I’m saddened by the turn of events, but, at the same time, I can’t seem to help stifle my smile. To borrow from Herrera’s Facebook reaction, “lol”!
At the end of the day, the public is in safer hands with legitimate media institutions compared to independent web sites and blogs. Why? Listen, Herrera, and learn. There’s a set of ethics, hierarchy and accountability that governs a media company that’s absent in an independent website, blog and social networking account.
This is the last time I’m dealing with this issue publicly. The next venue would likely be in court. And should something similar to what I’ve been through happen to you one of these days, friends, it’s time to put the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act to the test. Slap those cretins with a libel suit!