Scenes from a Mall*

Acclaimed independent film director Jim Libiran (left) meets up with flash mob members at SM Megamall.

Acclaimed independent film director Jim Libiran (left)
meets up with flash mob members at SM Megamall.

(Below is a slightly edited piece I’ve written for a blog that has gone offline for more than a year now and was posted in 2012 when I was still working for

Jim Libiran, director of the critically-acclaimed independent film Tribu, was contradicting himself.
“The revolution will not be posted on Facebook,” he said on Friday [April 13, 2012]. [See: Tribu, Jim Libiran]
If true, then the group of media people he brought together wouldn’t be in SM Megamall that evening in the first place.
Continue reading

Twitter, an electric company’s “noble cause”


Twitter makes many things possible.

It provides tips to clean your coffeemaker [See: Three things I learned from Twitter] or a link to a catalog featuring a series of Mercedes Benz cars — and their specs — produced for the American market in the 1960s (which I got from the person managing Donald Draper’s Twitter account.)

This latest blog piece — which includes what may well be my third  attempt at podcasting — was similarly brought about by Twitter.

In a tweet posted at around four in the afternoon of October 19, my Twitter friend @nicknich3 said:

No, it's not the lanzones we're talking about here. It's the tweet before that, my friend.

His tweet’s shortened link, in turn, brought this:

This reminded me of portions of the interview I held last June with some executives of Meralco, the Philippines’ largest electric company, regarding the firm’s Twitter strategy. [See: How Meralco got its Twitter name back]

During the interview, Kirk Campos, the company’s corporate communications staff, said that he once attended an internet convention in Manila which dealt with social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

According to Campos, a speaker in the event said that Meralco’s foray into Twitter was “a noble cause” since it was going to open the floodgates of complaints from its customers. However, the speaker said that without knowing that Campos, and his supervisor, Joe R. Zaldarriaga, the company’s media relations manager, was in attendance.

For more, you can listen to a three-minute portion of the interview, which lasted more than one and a half hours.

Twitter, Meralco\’s noble cause


From the Give Credit Where Its Due Dept.
As indicated in, the website where the podcast was uploaded, the interview was held last June 22, 2010 at the Meralco headquarters on Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City, Philippines. [See:] Among those in attendance included Campos, Zaldarriaga, and Ernesto A. Fraginal, senior manager of the company’s call center operations. No credit goes to yours truly for failing to embed podcast. What the $%#@*&^+~!

Microsoft’s ‘VIP Mix’ to extend customer reach

Microsoft in the Philippines is trying out what looks and sounds like the second-oldest sales strategy in the book.
It’s the soft sell — except that this one has a Web 2.0 twist written all over it.
With some help from social media platforms, blogs, and their users, the strategy intends to generate buzz about its products that will hopefully make its cash registers ring like alarm clocks gone haywire.
It’s simple enough.
Instead of creating a shotgun approach to promote its products, Microsoft Philippines Inc. has decided to target its users, pinning them down by segment, and creating a dialog between software maker and end-user.
Besides possibly leading to product improvement, the dialog could also enhance the company’s ability to spread and heighten awareness about its latest applications, attracting prospective users and customers.
“The move will also grow the scope of [Microsoft’s] reach,” Tim Vergel de Dios, Microsoft Philippines Inc.’s academic developer evangelist told GMANews.TV.
Starting late last year, the Philippine unit of Microsoft launched what it called its exclusive VIP events to which only a hundred or so participants — usually a segment of its wide range of software users — were invited. (These events are completely different and separate from the meetings it holds with local software developers.)
To secure a free VIP invite, a prospective guest needs to comply with certain requirements previously set by the company.
Last December, when it held its first VIP event just for students alone, the software company chose the top 100 students with the most number of friends on Facebook.
Those who emerged on top of the pile had an average of 2,000 Facebook friends, an achievement made possible by their extensive networks, de Dios said.
Although Facebook friends may not be an accurate barometer of popularity — whatever that might mean, especially since Internet metrics have yet to be standardized — these statistics are nothing to scoff at.
Microsoft certainly didn’t ignore it.
During the event, employees told the audience that Microsoft also gave away free software through downloads, prompting students to post URLs on their status updates which, in turn, were accessible to their thousand or so friends.
Microsoft’s download links went viral on Facebook in no time.
The impact was “huge,” de Dios said.
This explains why Microsoft will be holding its VIP events series until March this year.
These events will be extended if “community feedback is good,” de Dios said in an email message.
It already scheduled web designers for February.
And last January 28, Microsoft invited 100 bloggers to join the fun as part of its Blogger’s Night.
As of posting time, blog entries about the event and the beta version of Microsoft Office 2010 suite have already been uploaded.
An unofficial Facebook account of Microsoft friends in the Philippines — known as MSfriends Philippines — has also been created.
Who knows how much buzz that will generate?
No one does, as of yet.
But one thing’s for sure: Bill Gates is smiling.
(This piece can also be accessed on GMANews.TV. Picture on upper right shows sign at company entrance by Derrick Coetzee)

Sabado nights: a story in eight tweets

Half an hour past midnight finds self-proclaimed protagonist in his self-proclaimed Bat Cave, confident that victuals will last the weekend

Unfortunately, certain cold beverages do not fall under the category of victuals, which explains why he remains awake at this unearthly hour

And so, he continues to Tweet, formulating thoughts into 140 character configurations while warding off the threats posed by sheer thirst.

While Tweeting, he discovers that Oprah Winfrey will end her show in September 2011 — a development best appreciated while nursing a beer.

To thwart outbreak of beverage crisis, self-proclaimed protagonist takes a quick shower, hoping cold water will get mind off beer. Bad move.

The failed strategy is further complicated by tweet from @Kid_Kilatis who mentions Frank Sinatra, bringing images of bars, saloons, women

Situation getting out of hand, protagonist mutters to himself, left hand clutching neck. Will tomorrow night be any different than this one?

Drastic plan change proposed. Instead of spending whole weekend indoors, protagonist promises to leave apartment and purchase more supplies.

Story now ends as protagonist moves on to other plans, including updating his Facebook status as he looks forward to tomorrow night’s beer.

(Certain punctuation regulations were relaxed to comply with Twitter’s 140 character limitation. Some entries didn’t have periods, for instance. Similar attempts in the future will absolutely do away with these oversights. Cropped photo on the top right was taken during the September 2009 launch of San Miguel Brewery Inc.’s Oktoberfest, which was attended by, among others, the Oktobabes, a group of lovely Brazilian women.)

Tweeting between deadlines

A chronology of recent tweets on my account.

October 25, 2009, 9:30 PM:
Currently addicted to Twittter — via JournoTwit — and my own page. This has something to do with the fact that I have a deadline.

October 25, 2009, 9:34 PM:
On top of the fact that I like being challenged to say what I want to say in just exactly 160 characters. No more, no less. So there you go.

Twitter Pic

October 25, 2009, 9:40 PM:

It’s 140, not 160 characters as earlier mentioned, as I had a previous affinity with the number, it being my previous ipod mp3 sampling rate

October 25, 2009, 9:44 PM:
Enough, Mr. Basilio, enough! You have ruined our weekend with your instant, useless, and incessant blather. Go beat a deadline or something.

How Facebook saved my social life

Facebook is the new Friendster.
That’s what I told a friend of mine.
Or more accurately, that’s what I posted on his wall when he said that people who didn’t share our respect for both the Filipino and English languages — such as it was — were all set to invade and conquer our favorite social networking site.
Since he was an old fart who had a lot of time on his hands — which in turn, indicates the kind of company I keep — he was relentless.
“Friends, the end is near,” he said, continuing our discussion thread by posting on my wall. “Last night I was at a burger joint on Timog and heard two of these youngsters (from different tables) talk about Facebook. We’re finished.”
By youngsters, he was obviously referring to people younger than himself, which just about covered more than half of the Philippine population.

A portion of the Facebook account of this blogger, which may prove to be boring to some.

Shown is the Facebook account of this blogger, which may prove to be boring to some.

According to my friend — who is pushing 40 but has the mind and body of a healthy senior citizen — these young ones were about to lay siege on the Facebook community by mangling both languages through atrocious spelling and inelegant turns of phrase.
But I’m not bothered.
Practically no one among my 150++ friends on Facebook can be accused of befouling both languages, save for myself.
This explains why I remain choosy about whom I pick as friends in the said website, a decision that has benefits and drawbacks.
Since my Facebook friends are relatively literate, articulate, and open-minded individuals, I have no need to explain myself whenever the comments I post on  respective statuses, notes, pictures, and whatnot may be considered risqué.
They’re my friends, for crying out loud.
If they disallow and/or discourage me from airing my opinions, however biased (i.e., GMANews.TV is the world’s greatest website of all time) then they deserve being deleted from my A-list.
So far, none of my real friends on Facebook have been eager to curb my enthusiasm.
Nevertheless, I admit having to “unfriend” some of my so-called virtual “friends,” especially those whom I have never met at all. (Why I chose to become their Facebook friends in the first place is a mystery, even to myself. Blame it on alcohol, internet addiction, and plain stupidity.)
This, of course, has qualified me to become a world-class Facebook snob, according to my real friends.
But snob or not, I still am entitled to living the kind of life that I like, a right guaranteed under various international conventions to which this country is a signatory.
This right includes hanging out with people who share the same values and attitudes as I do.
Which explains why I recently looked up two college buddies whom I haven’t heard from in more than a decade.
Using Facebook’s private messaging tool, the three of us exchanged contact details and agreed to meet for dinner just to catch up on each other’s lives.
Details of the reunion — date, time, and place — was decided in just one afternoon, all thanks to the wonders of social media.
Since then, my college buddies and I have been able to organize a get-together on the fly, filling up my fair share of gimmicks and salvaging what remains of my social life.
Thanks, Facebook. You’ve got a friend in me, virtual and otherwise.