New home, old domain

I’m moving to a new host (home), but retaining my old domain name. Now, I have to find more time to write new blog entries.

Welcome, welcome to my humble, virtual abode!

Just Me,


Do It. Then Pivot.

man-person-cute-youngIt’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. There have been issues with my host (DreamHost), but I think it is now working *crossed-fingers*

We’ve always been told to just do whatever it feels right. There is no perfect timing than now. If you fail, then pivot. These are words that carry a lot of weight when you’re looking at jumping into a start-up company. Stories about entrepreneurs abound these days (and currently I’m reading about Elon Musk). Their tale reveals a common trait among these innovators: they’re hell bent on making things happen no matter what. The price of succeeding is heavy–and could even affect their relationships, marriages, etc. But they push on amid the setbacks.

Recently, I’ve been meeting a lot of new people–entrepreneurs, idea people, and some quirky ones. They all share one common trait: they want to disrupt the status quo. They’re also big dreamers who want to escape the corporate life, and the rat race (grind, for some).

These thoughts do cross my mind everyday, and there’s not a day that I start dreaming of a life that I can control. The four-hour work-week comes to mind too.

Then, I saw this film about this guy, a psychiatrist who seemed to have a comfortable life. He had a steady pool of clients; a caring partner; and good friends. However, as time went by, he realized he was unhappy. Thus, sparked his physical journey to research on what made people happy. He went to China and found a rich, American businessman who taught him that money can buy happiness. Nah. Then, he moved on to Africa where he met a drug kingpin and some low-life kidnappers. He learned that happiness is about taking advantage of situations and turning such situations to his favor. Happiness is also about being alive. Finally, he ended up in L.A. where he met his unrequited love. But he realized that he was chasing a fantasy and NOT love or happiness. In the end, his journey made him understand that it was his partner/wife who made him happy.

The End.

Such are stories made for movies or TV. But there are grains of truth in such films. As they say, art imitates life. Or art is a reflection of life and of our values. So I guess, what I’m saying is that our lives are essentially pursuits of happiness. And we often look for answers elsewhere, when they are sitting right in front of us (or in my case, right beside me now).

Family keeps me grounded. As long as they are happy, I’m happy.

That fatty, infected appendage that made me sick

For days, I writhed in pain. It was a jabbing pain in my lower-right abdomen. It was persistent, and it made me slouch. At first, I thought it was muscle spasm (the one you experience when you run.) But I was not running. I was not winded.

I put off the idea off seeing a doctor, thinking this pain would soon go away. But as the weekend ended and Monday loomed, I decided I had to go to the E.R. to see if this pain had anything to do with my appendix. I drove myself to the hospital on a Monday morning. There were a few patients at that time. They got my B.P. and my pulse. I wrote some information about myself for the E.R’s reference. I waited.

Meanwhile, I decided to share my predicament in Facebook. In a few minutes, I saw people wondering if I was okay. I realized that people quickly responded to posts if it was very personal (a birthday or some sickness or even a nice occasional selfie). I didn’t know what to say to my friends. So I waited. A nurse came and said she had to draw some blood to check if there was some infection in my body. I also gave a sample of my urine (remember to get a sample at mid-stream; I was often told). A trauma doctor came in and tried to press the area where the pain was. I answered his questions. Then he hit the spot in my belly. (Ouch!) I asked if this had anything to do with my appendix being infected, he looked at me and said that the area was way too high for the appendix.

An hour passed, a young-looking, bespectacled physician came and asked me more probing questions. I gave him the same answers. He also did some physical exam, and made mental notes. I still didn’t know what was happening to me.

A third doctor arrived. He was in his middle age, looked more senior than the bespectacled physician. They both came and they talked about my condition. The doctor suspected appendicitis, and feared that I may have to go under the knife. (Oh no!) But, (yes, there was a big but…) I have to go through a CT Scan just to make sure it was appendicitis.

More people posted on my Facebook wall, many telling me to get well soon. My ex-boss and friend happened to be in the area, and decided to pay me a visit along with his wife. We both had a selfie, and that went quickly into my Facebook. My ex-boss and his wife wondered what was wrong. I didn’t know anything except that the pain was unbearable.

Two hours passed. I told my wife to accompany me in the hospital. Suddenly, the E.R. felt so crammed and depressing. I could hear a man vomiting profusely. A lady was next to me was also writhing in pain. A guy on the other side was complaining of pain in his abdomen. But that may be related to some stones in his gall bladder. A few minutes passed, I heard him snoring.

The fourth elder doctor came and said that I was not having a bout of appendicitis. (Phew). But (yes, another but…) I had to be admitted for treatment for “epiploic appendagitis.” (Er, what?) The doctor explained that it was a (rare) condition where the “fatty appendages” of my intestine was infected. The cause was not clear. The symptoms were very similar to appendicitis. But mine didn’t require surgery. (Thank God!) The doctor told me I was to be admitted, and would be treated with antibiotics.

I made further research on my condition and found this on Wikipedia:

Epiploic appendices are small, fat-filled sacs or finger-like projections along the surface of the upper and lower colon and rectum. They may become acutely inflamed as a result of torsion (twisting) or venous thrombosis. The inflammation causes pain, often described as sharp or stabbing, located on the left, right, or central regions of the abdomen. There is sometimes nausea and vomiting. The symptoms may mimic those of acute appendicitis, diverticulitis, or cholecystitis. The pain is characteristically intense during/after defecation or micturition (espec. in the segmoid type) due to the effect of traction on the pedicle of the lesion caused by straining and emptying of the bowel and bladder. Initial lab studies are usually normal. EA is usually diagnosed incidentally on CT scan which is performed to exclude more serious conditions.

Although it is self-limiting, epiploic appendagitis can cause severe pain and discomfort. It is usually thought to be best treated with an anti-inflammatory and a moderate to severe pain medication (depending on the case) as needed. Surgery is not recommended in nearly all cases. Sand and colleagues,[1]however, recommend laparascopic surgery to excise the inflamed appendage in most cases in order to prevent recurrence.

Days have passed and I now have time to reflect on this latest incident in my life. While the cause remained vague, I think this was a “wake-up call” for me. I also have diabetes and I’m currently taking maintenance medicines along with some preventive medication against potential heart disease.

Is this God’s way of telling me to slow down? Perhaps. Clearly, this is my body telling me to be deliberate with my diet and my health. I should push myself to exercise more. Sickness is expensive. Health is indeed wealth.

My top 5 favorite resource for digital publishing

There’s so much information out there. I’m drowning in it everyday. But there are at least five sites that I keep going back to because  of (1) compelling content and insightful writers; (2) variety and practicality stories; (3) useful insights and information you can take with you after reading. Of course, it’s up to you if you act on these information.

NiemanLab: According to this website, “The Nieman Journalism Lab is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age.” Stories here are quite long, but mostly worth the read. TL;DR be damned. “We want to find good ideas for others to steal. We want to help reporters and editors adjust to their online labors; we want to help traditional news organizations find a way to survive; we want to help the new crop of startups that will complement — or supplant — them. We are fundamentally optimistic.” My daily diet for stories about technology, the industry, arts, culture, science, money, television, or whatnot. It’s just a treasure trove of good writing in long or short-form. What’s good about Medium is that you can *follow* people and topics, and you can annotate articles via a unique system of commenting. Finally, Medium allows you to become part of this growing community if you pass their standards of writing. From a content consumer, you can become a content producer here. I stumbled upon this site just last year as I was researching on publishing topics. This website is fairly a newcomer. But it features a lot of insights, interviews, and features on brands, publishing, agencies, and digital platforms. The writing is short, some are even in bullet-point style. Lots to bookmark from this site. So, go.

PBS MediaShift:  As the site’s kicker says, this is “Your Guide to the Digital Media Revolution.” There’s so much information here, including your usual “must-reads” on digital publishing, journalism education, links to more resources, etc. Call me traditional, but this academic website that is produced by the world’s top journalism school remains a daily dose for those wanting to understand the context of media. Insights, commentaries, and news analysis are provided here. Also, they offer fresh and basic perspectives on digital media.

Its mission:

Columbia Journalism Review’s mission is to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. Founded in 1961 under the auspices of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, CJR monitors and supports the press as it works across all platforms, and also tracks the ongoing evolution of the media business. The magazine, offering a mix of reporting, analysis, and commentary, is published six times a year; weighs in daily, hosting a conversation that is open to all who share a commitment to high journalistic standards in the US and around the world.

There you go. If you have your own list of top sites to go to for digital publishing, please do share with me or leave a comment below. Thanks!

We The Media Revisited: Of showbiz talk shows and celebrities

We The Media Revisited: Of showbiz talk shows and celebrities

[REVISED & UPDATED] Two events prompted me to write this blog post.

One involved a celebrity calling out what appeared to be an insult hurled at a house-help in an exclusive resort. Another was news about the end of a long-time running showbiz talk show in a dominant television network.

At first, I found both stories amusing and trivial. But as I read and thought about it, I believe these two events are connected to a rising reality in media.

Let me set the context: ever since celebrities found love and power in social media, this medium has offered them new channel to genuinely and intimately connect with fans (this excludes celebs whose social media assets are “managed” by experts).

Social media has become their platform. How do I know this? My best examples are my two daughters and my wife. They all follow celebrities: my daughters do it through Twitter and Instagram, while my wife does through the latter “media.” They now know more than what TV-produced talk shows are showing every weekend. Weekend showbiz productions have become too passe since news breaks faster on social media. Check how many entertainment news are picked up or re-purposed from social media by traditional media. The first event that I cited in the beginning is one recent example.

Watching the popular showbiz talk show host explain why the producers of the show decided to call it quits, he said a lot of things have changed since they started in the late 90s when the Internet was at dial-up speeds.

“The world has changed…showbiz news reporting has changed,” he added.

(He is right. The world has changed, the audience has changed).

He also hinted that they might come back, but in a different form or format, or even not as a group of hosts, but individually.

He stressed that the interest in showbiz news has not waned; nor is the audience for talk shows. (Again, he is right in both counts). But where is the audience going? Who is your audience now and in the future?

If you want to survive and compete in the future, you must consider these observations: (1) A growing audience who don’t watch TV–at least on the TV that we old folks call the boob tube; (2) a new generation of audience growing up with celebrities whom they can follow everywhere, anytime, on any device. (This part is scary for parents like me because this is close to stalking–talk about fanaticism multiplied by 100x) but do consider the value of being able to talk to a celebrity directly; (3) a younger audience who are picky, multitasking, interactive, and often ready to share their opinion about their favorite celebrities; (4) an audience who idolize and immortalize celebrities through fan fictions and other creative endeavors found in communities like Wattpad or Tumblr. These are a few of the things that I have been observing directly from my kids–and they tell me there are hundreds of thousands of them doing the same thing. (I believe them!)

Meanwhile, the current and older audience of showbiz talk shows are shifting towards more convenient and ubiquitous devices with bigger screens that provide streams of celebrity news, photos, videos, and even strategic product placements on Instagram, Facebook and whatnot. Thanks to the Internet, celebrities can now (1) Tell or retell (some go to the extent of re-inventing) their own narratives; (2) manage their own fans; (3) strengthen and nurture their personal brand as they give fans a glimpse of their lives outside of the daily grind; and (4) endorse products and services, which in turn translate to direct revenue for them. (Wow!)

My wife gave me some examples: one involved a pretty young artista who eventually got married. She started sharing her family photos on Instagram, and often exploring creative themes and stories. Years later, this celebrity finds herself endorsing products again, thanks to a steady chronicle of her life on social media. (Personal brand building 101, folks!)

Then, we have the so-called YouTube sensations or the celebrity “bloggers” who are using their new-found stardom to churn out content or even services which they own or endorse. Some of the Internet celebrities eventually land shows on traditional media, but those who stay close to where they started seemed to have lasted longer. (Google: PewDiePie)

Dan Gillmor’s seminal work called “We The Media” talks about the tectonic shift in media, where the audience is now part of the conversation. Traditional talk shows (or traditional TV productions) will die, as the audience demands more transparency, immediacy, and feedback from celebrities. In fact, social media today is both a boon and the bane for celebrities. Not all celebrities know how to use it well. But for those who do, they’re reaping the benefits. (I can only think of Taylor Swift right now).

Gillmor wrote; “Tomorrow’s news reporting and production will be more of a conversation or a seminar. The lines will blur between producers and consumers, changing the role of both in ways we’re only beginning to grasp. The communication network itself will be a medium for everyone’s voice, not just the few who can afford to buy multimillion-dollar printing presses, launch satellites, or win the government’s permission to squat on the public airways.”

These words were written years ago. It’s funny that it still sounds current because it is the reality, and events such as the closing of a local showbiz talk show are signs of things to come for TV networks (and other forms of BIG MEDIA) which will be challenged by new business models and emerging technologies and services.


If you like this article, do recommend it to others or share it on your social networks. What about you? What are your thoughts about this recent events? Drop me an email at erwin[dot]oliva[at]

*This think piece does not reflect the views of the company I work for or any organization I represent at the moment. But do leave a comment. Thanks and have a great day!

#LookUp: Put the phone down.

We spend our lives looking at screens every waking time, that we miss life that is happening right in front of us. This video–poetry–reminds us that we all have  responsibility to humanity–let’s all go back to the basics. We all need to PUT THAT PHONE DOWN!  Take a break and talk to people, and I’m not talking about IMs, but face-to-face conversations.

My Readings For the Week

A wise man once told me that if you need to market your product, THAT product  sucks. Well, that’s a sweeping statement but has some nuggets of wisdom especially in a fierce market where there is so much noise.

If you love “listacles” (short for list articles), here’s another one that compiles predictions on how marketing will be in the future. Read up on 25 Predictions on What Marketing Would Be Like in 2020. Here’s a great quote from Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer of Taco Bell: “At Taco Bell, we look at three approaches to content: Create, Co-Create, and Curate. Create is our own content, co-create is content created in partnership with consumers, and curate is taking the user generated content we like and showing it to more people. The most important ingredient in all of this is authenticity.”

The future instrument is a mix of creativity, engineering, design and software. Check out this instrument that got $80,000 in commitment through Kickstarter in 6 hours. Invented by musician Mike Butera who has a PHd in Sound Studies at Virgina Tech, this instrument, dubbed INSTRUMENT 1, is set to go sale anytime soon, after the group was able to demo its prototype.

I stumbled upon this minimalist & curated site called “Defringed.” It’s a term that many designers would know. What is this site about? It’s an online destination for creative content, chosen by their editors. The site, which I discovered through, features design, photography, art, typography, architecture, etc. If you’re tired of the messy, cluttered social networks, bookmark this site. It’s worth your while.

Other alternative sites that I have discovered: (a site supposed to be designed for millennials);, which features news catering to the young people. Both sites are not as loud as, but they also offer fresh insights and perspectives other than what you’ve grown tired of seeing on click-baiting websites.

Quo vadis, Philippine cinema?

20150227_154035Today, I heard one of the most revealing truths about Philippine cinema. It’s not dead or dying. It is just, well, polarized.

As I endured the cold Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium at the De La Salle University, Filipino director and professorial lecturer Jose Javier Reyes warmed up the place with his no-holds-barred talk about Philippine cinema and movies. There is apparently a distinction between a film and a movie; the latter is a product that is meant to be sold. Speaking before students, faculty and guests at the 1st DLSU Communications Conference, Reyes began his exposition with questions about the top grossing films in the Philippines. Then, he went on to reveal how much money did the Metro Manila Film Festival make–it was about PhP 1.1 billion. And the top grossing films? Let’s just say, they are mostly romcoms, produced primarily by a dominant studio, which also happens to be producing the most popular stars in movies and on television.

Reyes’ talk focused on how BIG studios today dictate how movies are made, and how economics play a big part in the distribution and production of these movies in cinemas. Contrast that to indie films which, by the way, is not a genre but a business model that simply means films not produced by BIG outfits. The success of English Only, Please and the recent That Thing Called Tadhana–films which Reyes dubbed as “maindies,” have succeeded despite it being produced by smaller outfits.

Indie films are often misconstrued as art or experimental films that only the intellectual moviegoers appreciate. Unfortunately, many Philippine indie films don’t have the marketing muscle and distribution that BIG studio-produced films have, thus are often not making enough money, or worse, forgotten and pulled down from cinemas after less than a week of public showing. Think of Bwakaw.

Reyes argued that Philippine cinema is polarized between movies that are produced as products that sell versus movies that are made by independent outfits that are often only seen in Cinemalaya or, rarely, in short-runs in local cinemas. The top-grossing films in Philippine cinema of all time are produced by BIG studios that feature popular celebrities (who mostly got popular on television), and a well-known director who has mastered the kiliti of the masses. Every year, this has been the case, until some films like English Only, Please break out of the mold. English Only, Please is a romcom that is independently produced. It has also won awards, and has made its producers money, according to Reyes.

The truth is, Philippine cinema does not need to be mind-numbing and crass to be able to make money. There are good films out there–many are even winning awards abroad, but since BIG outfits control the distribution and cinemas, the audience only get to see films that are formulaic.

Reyes stressed that films can and should entertain. But, as it entertains, it should also INNOVATE, REDISCOVER, and REDEFINE Philippine cinema. Innovate perhaps in terms of distribution and production (there’s always digital media waiting to be tapped). Rediscover means the industry being able to figure out ways to showcase local indie filmmakers in cinemas or via digital distribution. Redefine: This is an area where Reyes gets fired up: Philippine movies shouldn’t be classified as indie or mainstream. There should only be one: Philippine cinema, just like Bollywood.






Goodbye, dear friend

Dexter Rene Fernandez
Photo of Dexter Rene Fernandez (Taken from Google+ Profile)

Today, you joined our creator.

Your friends and family will miss you. But we all know you’ve lived a good life. You’ve made people happy. You’ve made people laugh. You’ve been a good friend and brother. You inspired people to be better.

Your passing reminded us of the inevitable: that we would also join our creator in our good time. The life you lived, the legacy that you’ve left behind, the people you’ve touched–they all thank you.

I watched you struggle the past few months. I wanted to know how you have felt. But I was afraid to dampen the vibrant mood that always surrounded you. Amid the suffering, you kept on smiling, singing, and reminding us that we are one in Christ. You were surrounded by LOVE. The Lord was and is always present, giving you strength and courage to deal with the painful experience.

As I read the messages flowing from your family and friends, I felt the warmth of their words—words of faith, of encouragement, of LOVE. You united us once again through a virtual connection that kept us informed of your situation.

My dear friend, I’m relieved that your suffering is over, but deeply saddened of your passing. We know you’re in a happier place now, singing songs and hymns with a new choir alongside our creator.

Do look after us, and remind us that we’re mere tenants in this world. Your death and your life are both reminders of our mission and purpose in life. We are mere passers-by, and thus we must keep our light burning as we face our own mountains and storms.

You are leaving a family who are well-loved; a wife and daughter who loved you until the end. We will take care of them.

We love you brother, and to this, I pray that you watch over us. Whenever I’m down, I will always look up to remind myself of you, smiling down upon us.


The Unfiltered Social Media: Why We Need to Edit Ourselves

(UPDATED) MANILA, PHILIPPINES—I got my biggest shock tonight, as I was looking through my feeds on Facebook. I followed this certain profile after I stumbled upon video clips of the aftermath of an alleged “mis-encounter” between Philippine special elite Police forces and forces from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and a smaller faction known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

This same profile or person posted new videos tonight, and I clicked the video to see what it was. Then, for a few minutes, I saw a video of a dying soldier, lying on the ground, all bloodied. He was shaking and suffering. I then see a gun pointed at the fallen soldier. I could hear gunshots from the background. There was an apparent battle happening. The man holding the video then shoots the dying soldier several times until he was lifeless. At this point, I stopped the video, tagged it as too violent to show on Facebook, and un-followed the profile where this video was posted. (Update: I reported this video as inappropriate on Facebook. The next day, Facebook said it wasn’t taking down the video after consulting with the “community.” But it was tagging the video as content that can only be seen by users 18 and above).

For a moment, I was speechless, having just witnessed the violent cold-blooded murder of a young man sent to arrest two known terrorists hiding in that area. As the stories unfurled, a total of 44 special elite policemen died. Most of them brutally killed. (UPDATE: Police later confirmed that the video of the brutal slaying of a man was one of their elite policemen).

Seeing this disturbing video reminded me of my days with a news website. Our editors got hold of a video of a foreign hostage whose body part was being cut off by a group of rogue group operating in the Mindanao area. After a heated debate, our editors decided to hold off on publishing the video–an exclusive to the website. It was an editorial decision. A story about it, however, was published without the video clip.

This kind of decision was also apparent in news organizations like New York Times and Al Jazeera, both of which decided NOT to publish videos of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) beheading.

A Storyful compilation of what transpired in these media organizations could be seen at the end of this story. Both media organizations decided NOT to allow the ISIS propaganda to spread further by NOT publishing the video, while still reporting on this atrocious terrorist activities. This, despite the spread of the atrocious acts on social media.

Social media has its advantages in publishing breaking news and information, especially eye witness accounts often emerging during natural calamities, man-made tragedies and disasters, and other news where citizens are able to capture moments on a little mobile device armed with a recording mechanism. The video on the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office is an example of how social media became the channel for delivering breaking news, based on an eye witness account. But as we’ve seen later on cable news channels, the raw video showing a cop being killed by a man carrying a high-powered rifle was “edited out” and replaced with images. This was a deliberate move to tone down the violence seen in this eyewitness video.

The Mamasapano video clips that were spreading on the web were allegedly taken by those who killed the 44 policemen. The motivation behind the release of these video clips is still unknown, although the police have reportedly identified the source of one video showing the brutal slaying of a cop. As expected, mainstream media did not publish these disturbing clips on public television or on their websites. However, the video spread through Facebook and YouTube.

In an unfiltered environment such as Facebook, we could only do so much as to flag certain content as inappropriate. I still wear my journalist hat wherever I go. I have joined fellow citizens who have mourned the death of the #fallen44, and condemned the acts of these perpetrators. I also asked my friends on Facebook to stop spreading the controversial video—but some disagreed and said that it was the people’s choice.

I believe there is a huge difference between sharing news and sharing propaganda meant to spark hate, violence, and potentially chaos. I lean towards helping solve this issue by carefully weighing facts, and not twisting or manipulating them to fuel rage and hate.