Monday, March 12, 2007


A number of senators and opposition senatorial candidates point out the fire last weekend that gutted the old Commission on Elections (Comelec) building -- on Postigo St. beside the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros in Manila -- was either a ploy to destroy damning evidence against the administration or an early effort to cover up a conspiracy to commit fraud in the coming May 14 midterm elections.

Comelec Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos Sr. claims the fire has not caused any major setback; however, he did admit that the fire heavily damaged Comelec records of the May 10, 2004 elections as well as the 201 Files of poll personnel all over the country.

Also razed to the ground were the offices of many Comelec officials, including those of the Statistics Division, Internal Audit Division, and the office of the Commission on Audit (COA) resident auditor.

Early reports by arson investigators attribute the cause of the fire to faulty electrical wirings as the burnt building was very old.

Regardless of the true cause and eventual repercussion of this event, what I personally find appalling is the state of our firefighters' equipment and clothing. Their trucks appear decrepit and their clothing not as fire retardant as those newer, high tech synthetic fabrics issued to New York City firefighters.

Perhaps, as our elected and appointed officials further engage in speculations, denials, and accusations borne by this Comelec building fire, some would be sensitive enough to pay attention to the clothing and equipment of our nation's firefighters so as to enable them to perform their tasks as efficiently and safely as possible.

Incidentally, this month is Fire Prevention Month in the Philippines.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:03 AM


Anonymous rhodora said...

Wow, Eric, you deserve a PRESS badge for this reportage... hehehe.

Alan Paguia is not about to give up pursuing his inquiry on the 2004 election fraud, as "unearthed" by the infamous Garci tapes. Sadly however, with this fire that gutted the Comelec building and the proofs being "intentionally gotten rid of", I can see very dim hope in his crusade.

March 12, 2007 8:26 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

One of my photo workshop classmates, an attorney, claims that her exasperation with our local justice system is pushing her to semi-retirement and find solace in photography. The name she brought up as one of our country's top true lawyer passionate about upholding our laws is Alan Paguia (who had also caught my attention with his convictions and principles).

BTW, Rhoda, if ever your husband needs an extra Manila photo correspondent in exchange for a much coveted "Press Card," let me know ... hehehe!

March 12, 2007 8:41 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Sure, Eric.. hehehe. Be sending one to you, if you are really serious about it. No kidding! I don't have to tell my husband - who is the BOSS around here anyway? hahaha!

March 12, 2007 8:56 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Ooops.. in fairness to hubby, he is still the boss.. hehehe.. But he has taken a new assignment in a major national network, so I am the one mostly managing the publication now. Ah.. work. work..

March 12, 2007 8:59 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Of course, I'm serious :) But I'm more into lifestyle photo features, though -- don't want to receive subpoenas from the First Gentleman ... hehehe!

Will email you later when I get back from the auto shop. I think my jalopy needs a new clutch :(

March 12, 2007 9:04 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Wow! When I saw the papers this morning I was sure to find some exciting pictures on your blog (since Sunday is your Intramuros day!)

Eric, I am always on the lookout for some exciting series (I can't keep talking about the coconuts in my blog forever ;-)so next time that Intramuros is burning send me a text to warn me!
Ever since I saw those amazing pictures of big fires in the Mezzanine Cafe in Binondo I am dreaming of doing a series about those brave fire fighters.

March 12, 2007 1:04 PM  

Anonymous tutubi said...

eric the photojournalist :)

the one i want to pursue someday that's why I'm also bent on improving my writing skills (if there's any)

heard of this yesterday and I guessed that you may have 'covered' the event.

went to the orchids show in QC, btw

to rhodora, why can't i comment on your blog? always tagged as spam
and there's no way for me to contact you :(

ei sidney,
why not a series on those more dependable fire volunteers of binondo :)

March 12, 2007 1:17 PM  

Blogger BW said...

I read in the news that the Manila firemen are not equipped with the right gear to battle fires and this was revealed during the fire at Speaker deVencia's house where they lost their youngest daughter. Hopefully the government has taken steps to correct this by now :)

March 12, 2007 1:38 PM  

Blogger Bugsy said...

How sad that, in this very modern times, we are still ill equipped to deal with this kind of emergency.

I like the last picture best.

Congratulations, Eric for having been nominated for Special Awards in the 2007 Philippine Blog Awards.

March 12, 2007 5:19 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I was at Intramuros around 7:30 that morning, and as usual planning to take some pics before the class starts, but ran into a classmate and suggested that I come along to check out the burnt building.

However, Sidney, at around that time, the only action left were the drifting smoke from smoldering wooden pieces and some exhausted firemen cleaning up; the raging flames were put out by five in the morning.

I do remember those pictures on the walls of that eatery in Chinatown, but I suppose you'd be needing one of those handheld radios that can receive live feeds of police and fire broadcasts; that is, if you really want to do that kind of coverage. I think a special permit is required to own/carry one of those radios? A press/media card would also help in terms of crossing police/fire lines.

Will discuss this more with you when we get together maybe late this week.

March 12, 2007 5:29 PM  

Anonymous jhay said...

What else is new at the COMELEC? It's 'Hello, Garci' all over again but this time there's no need for the 'Hello' since he would be in Mindanao during the elections to personally work his magic.

This is just how rotten the Arroyo administration is today. Simply disgusting.

March 12, 2007 5:31 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Tito!

Ed Santiago, one of our country's respected old guards in the field of photojournalism is one of the instructors of our Advanced Photography Workshop. I believe a well-known photoournalist, Luis Liwanag, a friend of Sidney, worked for Ed at one of the country's broadsheets.

Anyway, the photo essays I've been posting as of late were all inspired by the teachings of Ed Santiago.

BTW, Ed Santiago also teamed up with Ambeth Ocampo for quite some time in one of our major newspapers.

If photojurnalism truly touches your heart, I suggest that you consider taking this workshop and absorb what Ed Santiago has to impart on those four Sunday mornings (his lectures are at 9am-to-12; Vic Sison follows afterward). If you want to meet and learn from a master, this is a prime opportunity :)

March 12, 2007 5:39 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It is really a sad sight, BW.

And come to think of it, the firemen that responded to Speaker de Venicia's house (since it was a tony, guarded, and walled village) must have been well funded in local standards, yet they were apparently ill-equipped to tackle a dangerous job.

This reminds me of my nephew who was at the air force and had to purchase his own side arm when stationed in Mindanao.

March 12, 2007 5:45 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I just had to include that last picture there, Bugsy, so as to serve as a reminder that our firefighters may someday be saving the lives of our children. And wouldn't we want them to be properly and safely equipped to attend to such tasks?

I've been sort of downplaying the Philippine Blog Award nomination since realizing that we have so many great bloggers/site who are deserving of such awards. Many thanks!

March 12, 2007 5:49 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Jhay! Your sentiments echo those I heard from our professionals in the media who rate the current administration's overall attitude as even more severe and constricting than of Marcos'.

March 12, 2007 5:53 PM  

Blogger Kyels said...

It came as a shock to me when I heard that Comelec was burnt down. Sigh. I wish the world were not like this.

March 12, 2007 8:56 PM  

Blogger sheilamarie said...

hola eric, how sad to know that our firefighter risks their lives with no proper gear and equipments. nakakainggit nga sa USA, noh? like being a firefighter is such a big deal/great job. here, it's like who cares if you are one? they are at the bottom of the pecking order.

indeed, you would do well as a photojournalist :0)

March 12, 2007 10:05 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It is indeed shocking, Kyels, especially when the election is slated to happen this coming May. There are many speculations going on but will we ever k now the truth?

March 13, 2007 6:50 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

In NYC, at least, firefighting is considered in jest as the best parttime job. But in all seriousness, Sheilamarie, this is a very dangerous job.

The garments and gears of those NYC firefighters are designed to enable them to do their jobs safely and efficiently. Those used by our local firefighters are dated. A serious all around makeover, including their trucks, are desperately needed!

March 13, 2007 6:55 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I was just teasing you Eric!

I want to do a series about those fire fighters. The best way is to approach them in advance and ask them to warn me when there is a big fire.

I am working on a printed portofolio to show people what I do. I guess all those are assignments for the second half of the year.

I have a press card so this should be no problem.
Anyway everybody thinks I am from Newsweek or Time Magazine... and who don't want to make it to the cover of those magazines? ;-)
I guess this is the advantage of being a foreigner... :-)

March 13, 2007 10:36 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, okay Sidney.

Can't wait to see prints of some of your work.

I sometimes a carry some 5x7 of some pics I took to show to people on the spot.

March 13, 2007 1:07 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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