Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Monday, July 21, 2008

Word of the Day

GMA sportscaster and PBL commissioner Chino Trinidad showed up at Arenas' Gawad Kalinga appearance. After Arenas left, I rode back to Makati with some of his PR people, who complained that Trinidad ambushed Arenas for an interview on his way out of the GK Brookside community in Quezon City. What disturbed me was Trinidad's resemblance to Pee Wee Herman in these photographs, which I attribute to his rosy cheeks, waxed hair and maniacal, red-lipped grin.

You might also notice Trinidad's lovely adidas dry-fit shirt. Nearly every member of the local press corps who covered Arenas' visit came decked out head-to-toe in adidas gear at every event. I suppose they didn't want to offend the adidas employees who worked very hard to make Arenas' tour here run smoothly and successfully, but it was still jarring for me to see so many journalists sucking up to a sportswear company at the same time as they were covering it. Watching the procession of newspaper and television journalists march through the Manila Peninsula hotel lobby during the afternoon of one-on-one interviews was like watching an adidas runway show. Of course, many local media personalities are literally on the payroll of either Nike or adidas, so they have good reason to be all sipsip to their corporate masters. Also, while it's easy to take shots at the less-than-independent aspects of Philippine journalism, let's try to remember that local reporters aren't given much of a choice in the matter, because their news organizations usually pay them poor wages and expect them to make up the difference through envelopmental journalism, i.e. handouts.


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