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A 38-year-old Apple-1 personal computer – still in working condition despite its age – fetched a whopping $905,000 (P40,525,900) in an auction.
A SINGAPOREAN editor I talked with during a journalism forum in Jakarta sometime ago put it bluntly: “I was in Cebu last year during Halloween and watched TV coverage there: a lot of the news was about people cleaning and repainting grave sites, about prices of flowers, about children collecting half-burned candles…I was amazed by the amount of time spent on a non-story like the Halloween. And I learned you do that stuff every year.”
I said yes but couldn’t say more as the session resumed and I didn’t have the chance to pick up the issue again.
Indeed, yes, Cebu media have doggedly covered the Halloween since ages ago but I would’ve also tossed back to the foreign journalist: “How about you, don’t you also do the same to seasonal news? Doesn’t that happen everywhere?”
Seasonal news can be both benefit and curse. “Kalag-kalag” or the Holy Week, for example, provides news peg for stories that otherwise wouldn’t be worthy of print space or broadcast time. It becomes a bane when it produces by rote dull and flat non-stories: more of the same thing produced last year and years before that.
Not like theirs
First, this must be said for outsiders who find puzzling local media’s faithful attention on Halloween and Lent:
– Our “kalag-kalag” is not like the Halloween in western countries, which is mostly party fun for children. All Saints Day and All Souls Day are religious rituals that encourage respect of the living for the dead. And Lent is a holy season that our mostly-Catholic populace observe.
– Ignoring or under-rating Halloween or lent would “devalue” our culture and would “disconnect” media from its community.
That kind of seasonal news is big to local audiences; thus the large amount of media attention it gets.
Bottom of barrel?
Yet that doesn’t justify the routinely insipid non-news that come out from the media mill year after year.
News editors must have been more resourceful before but as they went through the same drill again and again, they must now be scouring bottom of the barrel.
How can they report hard news from the cemetery, one jaded reporter quipped, if it is peaceful and orderly, if the noise of the living don’t disrupt the quiet of the dead?
Reporters and editors may have to look harder for stories other than, during Halloween, the expected leap of prices of candles and flowers, smuggling of liquor into the cemetery, and priests making brisk business on grave-side rituals. And, during lent, stories on revisiting stations-of-the-cross sites and pilgrimage destinations, on whether that Bargayo would have himself nailed to the cross again, seven-last-words speakers and topics, or preparations for “sugat.”
There must be other things than what were serially reported in previous seasons.
Repetition or recycling is unavoidable, especially on data the audience needs: changes in program schedules, closure of some roads to motor vehicle, rerouting of traffic, new rules in cemetery or church access, and the like. Lately, media have published useful information for the public, from preparing for typhoons and earthquakes to surviving the crowd in Sinulog and Sto. Niño procession.
Non-news maybe but beneficial to the media public.
Yet look at some fresh ideas that one would see occasionally in print and broadcast, showing that creative juices still flow:
– A story about a “haunted” road near a “balete” tree where vehicular accidents had frequently occurred; blending of facts and popular belief made an interesting tale;
– A TV news segment on the closure of a pilgrimage site, why people had stopped going there, religion and business clashed, hurting both;
– How “siete palabras” speakers were picked and the story why versions other than the archdiocese presentation were banned;
– Building of a pilgrimage site for a retired businesswoman who filled a shrine with relics and artifacts she collected from world-wide trips.
Seasonal news necessarily include stale material. Repackaging it is supposed to do the trick. Journalists need to keep looking for the new, the interesting, and the meaningful for its audiences.
Long-held editorial practices may have to be reviewed: does broadcast news really have to devote two full news days on cemetery activities?
Nothing newsworthy could possibly happen in a cemetery unless some lunatic would explode a grenade there — as what happened in Talisay City in 1988, which killed seven people and wounded 40 others, quickly converting seasonal non-news to hard news.
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CEBU City Hall will look into the legal basis of claims made by the Mandaue City Government against its slaughterhouse.
Cebu City Legal Office Chief Gerone Castillo said he will meet with officials of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF), the City Health Department and the City Treasurer’s Office on Monday to discuss the issue.
“We will check everything. We will do a background check. They are very serious allegations,” he said.
DVMF operates the slaughterhouse, which is located within the territorial jurisdiction of Mandaue City.
Mandaue City earlier sent a letter to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama that the slaughterhouse committed violations, including operating without a mayor’s permit, sanitary permit, health cards for personnel and a water treatment facility.
The facility also allegedly failed to pay real property taxes.
Castillo said he will also meet with geodetic engineers of the Department of Engineering and Public Works to discuss the possibility of a survey that will determine if the slaughterhouse is indeed situated within Mandaue City.
If Mandaue City’s claims are valid, Castillo said, Cebu City will secure all necessary permits for the facility.
PUBLIC utility jeepney drivers will hold a rally on Monday to reiterate their opposition against increased penalties for traffic violations.
About 300 members of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) Cebu are expected to attend the protest action that will begin at 8 a.m. and end around 5 p.m.
The drivers will march from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 office in Mandaue City to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 office in Cebu City.
Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council presiding officer Councilor Dave Tumulak said the local government will deploy 28 Kaohsiung buses to ferry passengers that may be affected by the drivers’ rally.
The buses will be deployed in Barangays Bulacao, Labangon, Guadalupe, Lahug, Mabolo and Talamban, and in the downtown area, among others.
Aside from the buses, Tumulak said 40 barangay vehicles would be deployed if more passengers would be stranded by the rally.
The buses will be deployed starting 6 a.m. and until the rally ends.
Tumulak said the rally would not have a drastic effect on commuters because the semestral break will begin next week.
Greg Perez, Piston Cebu coordinator, told reporters that this will be the third rally that Piston initiated this year against LTO-LTFRB Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01.
He said the protest action will only affect about 10 percent of the public transport sector in Metro Cebu.
“Dili welga sa transportasyon kining among pagahimoong lihok protesta (We will not hold transport strike),” Perez said.
He said Piston will continue to hold protest actions against the JAO 2014—1, which Piston described as “illegal” and “disadvantageous” to drivers and operators.
Perez also expressed disappointment in the city governments of Cebu and Mandaue for failing to convince the National Government to consider the drivers’ plea.
Piston is also asking the City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) to waive the traffic fines that their members have accumulated over the past years.
Citom executive director Rafael Yap said that only the City Council can decide on the issue.
The penalties for violating traffic laws are covered under City Ordinance 801 or the Cebu City Traffic Code.
Yap said, though, that he is not amenable to waiving the fines and penalties because it will only encourage drivers to ignore the law. Aside from that, he said, doing so would deprive the City Government of millions of pesos in revenue.
“But it’s less about losing revenue and more about sending the right message,” he said. “Are they (transport groups) doing something about disciplining their own rank? Even if we waive all those fines, they will just accumulate more.”
Yap hopes that the council will take note of these concerns.
“Remember that operating public transport is not a right. It’s a privilege and that privilege comes with the condition that drivers have to follow traffic rules and regulations. But I don’t see that happening now. I am not convinced that such action (waiving of fines) is necessary at this point. There is nothing on the table that will justify such request,” Yap said.
THE Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) is pushing for ways to solve the flooding problem in Metro Cebu, which were identified as early as two decades ago.
These solutions include cleaning and improving the rivers and building large dams in upland areas, among others.
Engineer Jun Sanchez, head of the MCDCB committee on infrastructure and utilities, said such methods of addressing the flooding problem are already contained in the study made by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) in 1995 or some 19 years ago, and in another study Jica made in 2010.
Parts of Metro Cebu get flooded during heavy or prolonged downpours, a combined effect of clogged drains and overflowing rivers or creeks.
Sanchez delivered a presentation during the Third Mega Cebu District Representatives’ Convergence Meeting held yesterday in the Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center.
The 1995 Jica study, Sanchez said, covered 13 areas all over the country, four of them provinces of the Visayas. It included Metro Cebu.
The study pushed for improving rivers to solve the flooding problem. Sanchez, however, lamented that the study has been “ignored.”
One of the rivers that were supposed to be improved was the Bulacao River in Cebu City, to be widened equivalent to a 10-lane road like the one in Singapore.
The Kinalumsan River, Sanchez said, was also supposed to be widened and improved with maintenance roads on both sides.
Had these been realized, Sanchez said it would have contributed to the economic growth of Cebu as it would have increased property values around the rivers by at least 20 percent.
Because these have not been implemented, Sanchez said, Cebu lags behind Iloilo City as they have already set in place the improvement of the Iloilo River many years back.
Many of the rivers have been made narrow by the presence of illegal settlers.
As a start, Sanchez asked the local government units (LGU) in Metro Cebu to start cleaning the mouths of rivers.
“If we change our tactics by using the Jica study, then we will lessen the number of flood-prone areas in Metro Cebu,” he said.
Sometime in 1983, Sanchez pointed out, there were only 10 flood-prone areas in Cebu. By 2006, these had reached 127.
As for the 2010 Jica study, Sanchez said it recommended the building of large dams in Cebu. Jica’s proposed large dams are the Lusaran Dam, Kotkot Dam, Mananga Dam and Luyang Dam.
This recommendation has not been realized.
Aside from being a source of potable water supply, Sanchez said the dams could have been used as flood-control facilities.
Bohol, he pointed out, has already constructed four big dams in the past 13 years for a total amount of P19.2 billion.
Cebu, on the other hand, constructed small dams-Buhisan and Carcar-with a total amount of P2.3 billion in the past 93 years. The Buhisan Dam was built in 1912 yet.
With the many available studies from Jica, MCDCB chair Roberto Aboitiz said it’s high time these were implemented.
“We have data. We have studies. We have enough to go on. We have to come together because we have realized that much have been done before but not realized. There’s a gap between ideas and reality. We have to bridge that,” he said.
“It’s about time we carry the ball forward. There is a distance to run and we must run,” he added.
In the area of traffic, Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district) yesterday said he is planning to propose a subway in his district to solve traffic congestion.
He said he has already asked the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to conduct a feasibility study for the matter. Such a study, he said, will identify where the subway should be implemented.
Sought for comment about Del Mar’s proposal, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he is supportive of the project as it is cheaper than flyovers.
While there is no time frame yet for when the subway study will start, del Mar said it already has the support of DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson.
Addressing the flooding problem and the traffic problem in Metro Cebu are among the visions of MCDCB, which wants to create a wholesome, advanced, vibrant, equitable and sustainable Cebu by the year 2050.
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