Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Here's a letter I wrote to friends whose help I am soliciting to build Zamboanga's first Christian-Muslim Peace Library. Do read it and pleace also pass it on to your relatives, friends and loved ones.Abu
Manila kids are lucky. They only worry about grades, tutorials, concerts and where to go for vacation this summer. The growth of a pimple is magnified to the level of cancer.
However, strife-torn kids in Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sulu worry and pray that they at least get one meal a day; and that the kidnapping and military operations will stop so their schools will open.
Christian children worry about being kidnapped on the way to school. Their Muslims classmates, who are suspected to be children of Abu Sayyaf, pray that they not be abducted by Christians to force their fathers into releasing their victims.
This situation will worsen as extreme poverty drives more people into criminality. Kidnapping there is so common that ransom money is down to P9,000.
Seeing my mixed Christian - Muslim community turn into an Abu Sayyaf lair, I’ve decided to help stop Abu Sayyaf kids from taking after their fathers’ criminal activities.
For seven years now, I have been bringing books and holding medical missions in Barangay Manicahan, Zamboanga City. Manicahan is about a mile away from Sacol Island, where three teachers were kidnapped recently.
The only effective way to stop war and kidnapping is to provide poor Mindanao kids with good education so they will grow up to become productive citizens.
Thus, I enjoin you to help me build the first Kristiyano-Islam (KrIs) Peace Library to give poor students a place to read; learn the use of computers; undergo tutorials; and arm themselves with basic livelihood skills.
For inquiries regarding your donations, please contact me at cell. phone numbers 09195897879/ 09178127932 or at Tele-Fax numbers 3393732/ 7992745. Please check out our book-donation program at my blog: www.sattisfaction.blogspot.com.
Armand Dean Nocum
Dean & Kings Legal PR
(The picture above is that of my youngest daughter Ashia Mari Nocum, a Grade 2 student at the School of the Holy Spirit. She's a member of the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines).
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Reputation, that for which many die to protect, is now just a click away from destruction. Our privacy, which keeps our individuality and sanity intact, is now just a blue-tooth beam away from obliteration. Our future, the vast expanse of space for us to conquer, is now just 2.5 mega pixels away from permanent shame and scandal.
Looking at your young, vibrant – and yes – beautiful faces today gives me a sense of foreboding for your future in the hands of click-happy maniacs who will misuse technology to expose your very private person and intimate moments to the whole world via the internet.
At the same time, your presence here today inspires me even more to continue my fight against the wanton use of technology – especially the now very ubiquitous mobile phones – to capture and spread people’s private sexual acts or their physical private parts.
Yes, by now most of you – especially the boys here – have seen, exchanged through blue-tooth, infra-red or emails the now very common sex scandal or video scandal flicks. We even got reports that now, you no longer have to buy pirated CDs or DVDs from Quiapo, but you can just have people there beam into your mobile phone sex video flicks for a price.
Although a criminal act, what is lamentable is that this form of technological abuse is now very pervasive and people find it ``normal’’ and acceptable. People are no longer offended or find the showing of sexual acts of girls as young as their kids or sisters making love revolting. Many even look forward to buying new pirated disc showing newer sets of victims who grow younger by the month.
Alas, the showing of such video scandal is as common and acceptable as the singing of videokes. The playing of sex video scandals has become part of the things that man do when they get together for a drink.
Local actresses even cause the spread of such indecent film clips to boost their careers. Unfortunately, many of them get away with such publicity gimmick without anyone getting jailed or anybody bothering to seek justice. This is now accepted as part of life here in the Philippines.
But is it? Should we allow it to go on like this?
My answer there is “No!”
It is for this reason that I have filed a bill criminalizing the recording of ``private act or acts and other violations of the privacy of an individual’’ by means of mobile phones or video cameras.
House Bill 4315, entitled ``An Act To Prohibit and Penalize the Recording of Private Act or Acts and Other Provisions of the Privacy of An Individual, And for Other Purposes”, sets a penalty of up to six years imprisonment and a fine of up to P500,000 for those doing peep-show clips or those engaging in audio-visual kiss-and-tell.
This bill, which I co-authored, Buhay Party-List Reps. Rene M. Velarde and Ma. Carissa O. Coscolluela -- also penalizes those in possession of such offensive ``video tape, disc record’’ and ``replay’’ or ``share, relay or exhibit the contents thereof in any form.’’
Under the bill, ``consent’’ of one or both parties involved in the sexual act cannot be used as valid ground or excuse for the taking or showing of the obscene film clip.
In my bill’s explanatory note, I have expressed disgust over the fact that ``these recordings are caused by or with authority of lovers or partners. Whether it is triggered by a lover’s revenge or just cheap publicity stunt, the same is against morality and ethics.’’
My bill penalizes the ``mere act of recording or any attempt of recording the private act or acts, including but not limited to sexual act, and other violations of the privacy of an individual which would cause public ridicule, without consent of the parties…’’
In my bill, I have stressed that this form of technological abuse ``is considered the highest form of invasion to the privacy of the offended party. Such violation is condemnable and needs to be penalized in its highest degree.’’
My bill, now commonly known as the “Anti-Cyber Boso” was approved by the House of Representative’s committee on Justice on Feb 3, 2008. This will be scheduled for 2nd reading at the plenary hall of Congress.
I am happy to report that my colleagues in Congress are quite supportive of this bill, with many of them offering to co-author this significant and timely measure.
Thus, as I face your beautiful faces today, I will not only impart to you the important facets of the bill but also pick out your brilliant minds on how we your representatives in Congress can improve on this measure.
We will be happy to get inputs and suggestions from you because you are clearly more techno-savvy than many of us in Congress. Verily, the future of technology – good or bad – rests in your hands.
It just ironical that the technology that is connecting Filipinos is also the same technology that is robbing the innocence and debasing our youth who are being exposed as sex objects via mobile phones.
So today, I ask you to join me in my crusade to stop the abuse of technology and preserve our individual reputation, privacy and future from those out to destroy it with one merciless and reckless click.
(This was a speech delivered by my PR client and friend Buhay Party-List Rep. Irwin Tieng during a consultation/dialogue regarding Tieng’s House Bill 4315, which is commonly known as the “anti-cyber boso’’ bill)
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Taking the Flack for Muslim Kids
My friend Charlie Agatep – the recognized modern-day Dean of Public Relations – has gifted our A-Book-Saya Group (ASG) five used computers to be made available to poor Christian and Muslim kids in Zamboanga City.
For his generous gesture, the chair of the Euro RSCG and president of the Agatep Associates Inc. – the country’s premier advertising, marketing and PR firms – recently found himself under fire for from those who resented him using “Abu Sayyaf lair” to describe the areas where the computers and books will be brought to.
Unfortunately, it was I who made the caption in question and which appeared in the Manila Bulleting, Malaya, Business World, Business Mirror and the Manila Times.
And one of those who queried Charlie on the word was my kababayan David Santos. So here’s the email I sent to David to explain my choice of words. Do read on because it says much about what is happening in that troubled city of mine.
It’s an honor to be communicating with you because I only see you on television reporting out of my beloved hometown Zamboanga City.
As to your query relative to the phrase “Abu Sayyaf lair,” that came from me as CSR Guru Charlie Agatep correctly pointed out.
I know that such phrase will kick up storm in Zamboanga City as it desperately tries to project a veneer of peace and stability. But I am willing to risk condemnation if only to help my parent, brothers and sister and other relatives in Manicahan and Sacol Island sleep better at night.
You see as far back as I can remember, Sacol Island – which is about 10-minute boat ride away from Manicahan – has been considered as “MNLF country.” I should know because in my younger years at the Manicahan Elementary School, we would jump into fox holes under the house when we see the now vintage Tora-Tora planes circling over Sacol and dropping bombs.
As we grew up, we learned to adjust to the sight and sound of planes flying and bombs going off and the ground shaking that we actually cheered when that happens because that would mean the dismissal of classes.
Back then, there was relative peace in Manicahan with suspected MNLF families living in Manicahan Poblacion and Sacol Island respecting our peace. My late dad Armando Nunez Nocum – Manicahan’s longest serving barangay captain – earned the respect from Muslims both in Sacol and Poblacion. Although he and his CAFGUs sometimes have to exchange fires with truant MNLF rebels, they generally left us in peace.
Then the Abu Sayyaf came to town. Their rise brought fear into the hearts of everyone in Manicahan – both Christians and Muslims. Suddenly there was what we called “love letters’’ from suspected ASG commanders asking some of my relatives to pay up or face the prospect of kidnapping. Even retired teachers or affluent Muslims were not spared.
Suddenly there were numerous talks of kidnap victims being brought to Sacol Island. Terror hit home when one of my uncles – you may ask my cousin Councilor Elong Nativida for his name – was kidnapped and brought to Sacol Island.
Then a former principal from nearby Cabaluay was also kidnapped and she too was brought to Sacol where reports said she was raped night and day by teenage members of the Abu Sayyaf.
Teachers in Manicahan Poblacion, including my sister, were terrorized by children who were open about the fact that their fathers and relatives are ASG members. These children would threaten their teachers who are strict to them. Pretty soon, Christian students started leaving the Poblacion Elementary School which is now exclusively serving Muslim students.
Two years ago, talks were ripe about kidnap victims seeing the PLDT tower in Poblacion while in captivity. This meant that kidnappers have become so brazen that they no longer see the need to take the victims out to Sacol Island but were keeping them right in Manicahan.
My mother confirmed this because some of the suspected ASG members were her students. She lamented that many of them were smart. How depressing.
So, for years now, people in Manicahan have been living in constant fear. And if you have relatives having been kidnapped and living in fear, what would you do? Certainly you would throw verbal niceties out the window and call Sacol and Manicahan for what it really is – an Abu Sayyaf lair. The kidnapping of the three teachers only confirmed this.
But how many more will have to be kidnapped, raped and killed for us to finally face the reality that we have a serious peace and order problem in Zamboanga City’s East Coast? Should we start doing so only when members of the Lobregat, Santos, Fabian, Velasco, Enriquez or other prominent families get kidnapped in Manicahan, Sacol, Sangali, Bolong or Cabaluay?
In the face of this harsh reality in my barangay, I did not cry wolf and condemned the kids of the ASG. In my view, they are as much victims as we are of government neglect and indifference. Please bring your television crew to the Manicahan-Poblacion Elementary School for you to see how the neglected school serves as a breeding grown of disgruntled future terrorists.
Instead of acting as an alarmist, I worked hard to bring books and other stuff to both Christian and Muslim children in Manicahan and Sacol Island. I have been doing this for about seven years now without fanfare and without announcing my deed to the local media, many of whom are my friends. After all, I am just an ordinary Chavacano who happens to be married to a Muslim.
However, my low-key effort to build the first Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) Peace Library finally got attention this time because my friend and generous benefactor Mr. Agatep came into the picture. However, I don’t mind the criticism heaped upon me and Mr. Agatep as long as the on-line discussions serve to bring attention to the peace problem in the East Coast.
I hope our compoblanos will turn criticism to actual support for my dream to show ASG kids that there is a better way out of poverty than the barrel of a gun. What we do now may not have an immediate effect, but at least we are doing something to intervene and change the young minds of our poor Muslim and Christian’s children into seeing education as the most effective way out of poverty.
In doing so, we are also showing them that they are still part of the Philippine Republic and there are Christians and Muslims in Manila and the city proper of Zamboanga who still care for them.
I hope I could count on your help. I also appreciate you not exposing this letter or my relatives in the local press so as not to further endanger them. I feel my kindness towards Muslims in Manicahan and Sacol Island and the fact that I’m married to a Tausug are among the reasons why they have not yet kidnap any member of my immediate family.
Gracias mi amigo David.
Armand Dean Natividad Nocum
President and CEO
Dean & Kings Legal Public Relations Firm
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The horror of war and kidnapping came to me early in childhood. Then and now, I know fear by one name: Sacol Island.
Now notorious for the recent kidnapping of three public school teachers, Sacol Island is just half a mile away from my hometown Barangay Manicahan in Zamboanga City.
In my elementary school years, war came to us in the form of vintage T-28 Trojan dive bombers – commonly known as Tora-Tora planes – raining bombs and hellfire into the island located east of Zamboanga City. Sacol was then known as a Moro National Liberation Front lair.
The rumbling and shaking of the ground beneath us signal the dismissal of classes. It also triggers panic as our parents pack up clothes, foods, flashlights and other provisions as we jump into fox holes to hide from the fire fight between the army and the MNLF.
Some 35 years hence, things have not changed. They only worsened. Now the Abu Sayyaf Group has made Sacol Island their home. To escape military attacks, some ASG families also settled down in a sitio in Manicahan known as Aplaya.
The horror of kidnapping became close and personal. Recently, a farmer-uncle was kidnapped in Aplaya; and my mother’s colleague in a religious organization was kidnapped and gang-raped by teenage ASG members in Sacol Island.
Truly, poverty and illiteracy has driven many in Aplaya and Sacol Island to see kidnapping as the only effective means of earning a living. Kidnap for ransom activity has turned into a kind of cottage industry.
It is for this reason that through our A-Book-Saya Group (ABSG) book-donation project, we have targeted children in Aplaya and Sacol Island as beneficiaries of less than 700 books we collected through our Satti Grill House outlet in SM-Fairview last year.
Although it is too late to change the minds of their gun-totting elders, we hope that with books we could still reach out to the children of suspected ASG members for them to take the path of peace.
However, we realized that to really get ASG kids into seeing education and not guns as viable means out of poverty, we have to take a pro-active means to initiate an early intervention in their troubled childhood.
Thus, we are embarking on a mission to build the first Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) Peace Library to teach Christian and Muslim children living in Manicahan and Sacol Island that there are other means of livelihood other than kidnapping and banditry.
The Kris Peace Library would be a place for Christians and Muslim kids to get together to read, train in the use of computers, undergo reading sessions, watch inspiring documentaries; and a place for them and their parents to learn some form of livelihood.
As of now, we already have about 90 boxes of books and five used computers donated by Former Senate President Jovito Salonga, PR Guru Charlie Agatep, the International School of Manila, Diether Ocampo’s KIDS Foundation, Ahon Foundation of Filway Marketing Inc, Quota International-Manila, Solar Sport’s Willie Tieng, and Philippine Star columnist Jarious Bondoc, among others.
But the biggest challenge is the building of the simple, two-storey library. It is in this connection that we are asking for your help to project our advocacy in media through your newspaper columns, blogs or e-groups for us to reach out to potential donors.
Potential donors can call us at 7992745, 3393732 and 09175208013. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check us out at www.sattisfaction.blogspot.com.
Those who want to give books, educational toys and school supplies can drop these off at the Satti Grill House outlet in SM-Fairview Food Court or at the Dean and Kings Legal Public Relations Firm located at Suite 300, Kimvi Realty and Development Building, 1191 Maria Orosa St., Ermita Manila (fronting the Court of Appeals).
Armand Dean Nocum
Dean & Kings Legal PR Firm