[ the digitizer ]*

i am therefore i blog.

A Friend of the Sorianos Speaks

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This is an email I received from Lovely Aseron two days ago. The facts are disturbing and I think everyone following this story, and the general public, should know this. My clarification–not justification–on certain details is in red.

Hi, I’m a friend of the Soriano family. My fiance, Edu Abalos, is a first cousin of Romulo Soriano. I would like to clear up some things about this article and the other one before it:

1. Kuya Mulo (Romulo Soriano) and his family weren’t on their way to Manila. He was driving Ate Malou to the Provincial Hall where she was expected to report together with her colleagues at work in Provincial Health Office (PHO). They were assigned to go to Balayan to give assistance to the typhoon victims there.

Got this news of their supposed trip to Manila from an ABS-CBN report.

2. Mayor Dimacuha was at the site just after the bridge collapsed.

3. Lolit Cos or whoever she is wasn’t the one who found Ate Malou. The Badjaos found her and rescued her on their own.

The Badjaos did save her. But my source at the Batangas Police Provincial Office told me that she was spotted by one Lolit Cos first who alerted the Badjaos to rescue her.

4. The praise for the Coast Guard is an exaggeration. The family had to go to them, use connections, and suffer numerous delays before help was given to them.

*** Searching for Kuya Mulo and Nico was primarily a family effort. Lives were at stake, but the government never made them feel that searching for Kuya Mulo and Nico was of utmost importance and a priority. The family had to rent boats and even borrow a private speedboat from Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), through the effort of Kuya Mulo’s aunt who works for COA-PPA. When Nico was found in Tingloy, the male relatives on board the borrowed speedboat from PPA brought the body to PPA Batangas. While the other relatives were waiting, a police officer approached them. He went and said how the PNP found a boat and escorted the body of Nico from Tingloy to Batangas City. It was an outright lie. The aunt who personally borrowed the speedboat from PPA told him, “you’re mistaken, I borrowed the boat from PPA, not you. My nephews are the ones bringing the body from Tingloy, not you.”

*** Although Ate Malou was a government employee, and the reason the family left the house that morning in the first place is to drive her to work (on a Saturday, if I might add), we never felt the help of the government. Vice Governor Leviste went to Wawa and the hospital to visit Ate Malou, his promise that they will help in searching for Kuya Mulo and Nico were nothing but empty words. He specifically said that certain government agencies have been put on alert. However, when the family went to Mabini because of an unofficial report, from a friend, of a body found there, they were surprised and disappointed upon their arrival that the Coast Guard and Barangay officials were not aware of the situation. the barangays near the coast should have been informed since Kuya Mulo and Nico might have been anywhere. Governor Vilma Santos went to the home of the Soriano family after the burial. When asked where she was during the ordeal, she said the bridge was not within the jurisdiction of her office.

*** It is frightening that trying times like the one that happened is a continuing manifestation of how our government can not be relied on.


Written by nealm

14 November 2009 at 3:11 PM

Nicolo’s Body Recovered, Car Found; Romulo Still Missing

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I have a confirmed report from a Batangas Police Provincial Office source that as of 3:42 pm Manila Time (GMT +8) today, 3-year-old Nicolo Soriano‘s body was recovered near Tingloy, an island-municipality across the Batangas Bay, a linear distance of about 15 miles (about 25 kilometers) from the site of the collapsed bridge and 32 hours after the incident. His remains is now at the San Fernando Funeral Homes in Batangas City.

Meanwhile, their white Honda Civic car was found underwater near RK Village, a few hundred meters from the disaster site, and search and recovery operations continue for the missing Romulo Soriano.

Maria Lourdes Romulo Soriano or Malou, the survivor, is still confined at Saint Patrick’s Hospital in Batangas City. According to the same source, Malou was heard crying for help by one Lolit Cos as she was  floating among the flood flotsam near Wawa, a seaside community in the city. She then sought the help of a Badjao (known for their swimming and sea-fearing abilities) whose name’s phonetic spelling (he couldn’t spell) is Karsani Bartapa to retrieve her from the raging water.

There is also an unconfirmed account that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) did an inspection of the bridge a week prior to the collapse and found it to be structurally sound.

So many questions, so few answers.

But kudos to Karsani and the tireless, nameless Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine National Police rescuers and other volunteers. They are our heroes. [d]*

Written by nealm

1 November 2009 at 9:50 AM

A Bridge That Broke Its Promise

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Bridge of Promise by bobit (goaguila)

Typhoon Santi (Mirinae) washed away a four-decade-old, 20-ton-capacity steel Bridge of Promise at 7:30 a.m. today, when the Signal #3 typhoon was leaving Batangas City.  A family in their white Honda Civic car was crossing the bridge on their way to Manila when it actually collapsed and plunged into the murky Calumpang river. One of the three passengers, Malou Soriano, 39, a Provincial health worker, was rescued almost an hour later a few hundred meters downstream after people saw her hanging to a tree and was rushed to Saint Patrick’s Hospital in downtown Batangas City. As of this writing, search and rescue is still on-going for her husband, Romulo, 40, and her son, Nicolo, 3.

When I went to the site, the trusses appear to be intact hinting at the questionable structural integrity of the weakened bridge piers in the middle of the span which witnesses saw were the first to succumb to the raging water.  One driver told me that he felt the “weird shaking” of the weakened bridge yesterday before the storm’s onslaught prompting him to drive faster across the bridge for fear it would “give in”. I saw a Coast Guard rubber boat plying the river once downstream and twice upstream when I was there for  about an hour. No frogmen/divers in sight, neither were there any frantic rescuers. Only curious onlookers, mostly with their camphones, a guy with “Official Photographer” emblazoned on his shirt, and other rubbernecks. Talks were aplenty about premonitions, hindsights, and how corrupt politicians and disasters don’t go together. I asked if anyone saw the Mayor (Eddie Dimacuha). None in the crowd could answer me. “How long do you think they (the government) could rebuild this?” I asked a couple of guys next to me. “If not for Shell (which uses this bridge to transport their crude and refined oil), this bridge would not have been built,” the guy in white shirt retorted.  I disagreed. It’s election time, duh.

We are a nation of resilient people. But the worst disaster that we have yet to recover from is corruption. We didn’t need Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi to know this. I pray for Malou’s recovery and Romulo’s and Nicolo’s rescue. I pray for our enlightenment.

P.S. I searched online in vain to validate the details on the bridge and what not. I am an amateur blogger so the facts on the bridge are not fully vetted, except for the details of the disaster and the family which are in the news. [d]*

Written by nealm

31 October 2009 at 10:05 AM

And The Winner Is…

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Juan de la Cruz! or Joe Blow! or Jane Doe! (Of course, I would have been twice merrier if it was me!)

Finalists' Screenshots Mosaic Wall

Finalists' Screenshots Mosaic Wall

Of all the brilliance and luminosity of the bloggers and pundits at the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards Awards Night last October 9th, nothing shines brighter than the light of freedom. And the true winner that night is that one person who our blog post finds.

More than the luster that each award recognizes, it is the power of the word to forge minds, form opinions, and sometimes force changes that makes these ceremonies meaningful.

To the 2009 PBA winners, congratulations (especially to Jim Paredes of Apo Hiking Society fame who won in the Best Personal Blog-Nationwide Category)! Thanks to you, my dear readers and good friends, who  continue to appreciate my work.

This could have been a photo of that trophy!

This could have been a photo of that trophy!

P.S. I just wish they have a separate category for celebrity bloggers. Enough said. [d]*

Written by nealm

13 October 2009 at 6:32 PM

Flippin’ Over Flippish

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It can’t get any better than this! You get to show your love by voting for The Digitizer and get the chance to win a Nokia 2330 Classic? Talking about quid pro quo (scratch my back and i’ll give you a back rub!).  Here’s the email I got fr0m the Flippin’, I mean, Flippish Team :

Greetings from Flippish.com!

As one of the finalists of the Best Personal Blog category, we are excited to inform you that your blog is also part of the Flippish Viewers’ Choice Award!

This time, the viewers get to decide on who wins, by voting for their favorite personal blog. On top of that, they also get a chance to win a Nokia 2330 Classic if the blog of their choice gets the most hits!

The winners of the Flippish Viewer’s Choice Award and the Nokia phone will be announced during the live webcast of the Philippine Blog Awards

Spread the love, spread the link! Check out on October 9, 2009, 6pm only on Flippish.com. http://www.flippish.com/nokia-voting-page/ for details.

Good luck and bye-bye!

-Flippish team

Go ahead, click on the banner to vote for The Digitizer and click on its thumbnail picture on the list (so I’ll get the hit, too).Thank you.

P.S. Can’t w8 4 us 2b txtm8s soon! 🙂 [d]*

Written by nealm

5 October 2009 at 4:47 AM

The Blog Awards And My Front Tooth

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Philippine Blog Awards 2009 Awards Night Invitation

Got this in my email today, and suddenly it felt all too real for me! I started to run in my mind the inventory in my closet — no, I ran towards the closet! — and then feverishly thumbed through my hung clothes. Black! You can’t go wrong in black! Ugh, I have to buy that Penshoppe Recut jeans that I’ve been salivating over… Stop! Neither Cher in her outrageous diva outfit would pop in there nor would there be celebrities in bold blinding bling with swooning fans and shark-like paparazzis in attendance, so why the fuss? I had to slap myself a li’l bit, as you would some hysterical mama, to remind me this ain’t no Hollywood as they say in ebonics/blackspeak. Just being around bodacious, brazen, even brash bright bloggers would surely beat watching B movies on a blah Friday night (what’s up with all these “B” words?). Okay. Well then, I’ll have until 5pm that day (actual Awards Night), to have my right lateral incisor (one of my front teeth) plastic crown fixed, nay, replaced. But I’m broke and it’s such a *bleep* (another B word). I was eating mixed-nuts when it loosened up, so I accidentally chewed it. (Crrrunchhh ! Oh, the sound of a horrifying realization that what you were enthusiastically masticating on is a 3,000-peso artificial tooth jacket and not just any green pea!). Talk about the wrong tooth with the wrong food at the wrong time! Were I an unbeliever in Murphy’s Law, this could have been my “Hallelujah” moment, except that it was an “AAARRGGGHH!” shout instead. Sigh.

Desktop1Back to the email: it says I can “come as I please“, so I guess it’s alright to attend with a fang-like front tooth. Hmmm… would wearing animal prints — leopard or tiger? — make or break the look or would a subtle ‘Twilight‘ aura — white-powdered face and black eyeliners with a little hint of a blood dripping on my right lip corner — say I am not that blasé yet? And if I do come as myself sans the effort to cover up my dental booboo, will photo-ops be actual opportunities or will these photos haunt me someday? Maybe I should start to practice grinning without flashing my teeth and try not to smile like Jim Carrey so no one would know about my poor little tooth (except you, the reader, which could mean, oh, everyone from everywhere, including the Awards Night audience! But surely, you can keep a little secret, can’t you?).

Hold on, I’m trying to be a Wordsmith and not some Close-up model last time I check. Who gives a dentist’s drill about my tooth anyway except, well, the dentists? And in case the Tooth Fairy won’t make it until my last Cinderella hour to rescue me, I shall rely on Calliope and Clio (Muses of Lyric Poetry and History, respectively, to the non-Greeks) to make me look good at least on paper.

Philippine Blog Awards Night, you will surely be digitized even if I grow another fang or two dangling in my nose! [d]*

Written by nealm

3 October 2009 at 2:33 PM

2009 Philippine Blog Awards’ Luminous Finalists

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I have yet to earn a cent from blogging, but who cares when your peers recognize your work?

This is what I posted for my Facebook status update after I learned that The Digitizer is among the 20 finalists in the Best Personal Blog Nationwide Category (announced yesterday, September 23rd) :

FB screenshot

Win or lose, it is an honor just to be listed among luminous bloggers by stellar bloggers!

Felicitations to all the finalists! I’ll try to visit each finalist out of curiousity, respect, and yes, even peer envy. 🙂

2009 Philippine Blog Awards

Best Personal Blog

ai’s cracker
Brief Stories
Cerebral Insights
Excuse My French
Funny is the New Sexy
Life with Ria
Platonic Trip
room for squares
Succulence Unleashed
The Casual Observer
The Digitizer
The Free Lancer
writing on air

For the complete list of all the Finalists in the Nationwide Categories, click here.

Congratulations to all the luminous finalists!


Written by nealm

24 September 2009 at 3:34 PM