Tag Archives: Communications

Innovative Spaces

Back in the day, I used to write constantly on this website. It’s still quite popular (with more than 1k subscribers), but I am delving into social media as a complement to Miss Tolentino dot com.

With the goal of refining my visual communication techniques, I have opted to create the Miss Tolentino Facebook page where I can instantaneously post my projects, my art (both visual and literary pieces), photography, humor and other relevant interests that go with being a creative.

May you find this space inspiring, challenging and thought-provoking. Also, I highly value collaboration, brain-storming and ideas. If you have comments or strong sentiments on the subjects I post, please feel free to let me know as long as they are constructive and respectful in manner/tone.

Thank you for following my page. I look forward to building a creative community that thrives in spaces where independent and innovative thinking is encouraged.

Maria Paula Tolentino
MPT/Miss Tolentino

Freedom of Information: A Privilege and Responsibility

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) co-founder and current Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Shiela Coronel told her audience: “twenty-five years ago, the term ‘investigative reporting’ was little-known in Asia. Today, journalists throughout Asia are using freedom-of-information laws, data analysis, social media, collaborative tools and the latest in digital technology. They are writing about corruption, human slavery, dirty money and environmental problems.”3

Throughout this time, we’ve been told that Asians value consensus over exposure. They’re wrong: Speaking truth to power is an Asian value”.3

It helps if the investigative reporter is a damned good writer and storyteller – suspenseful but not sensationalistic, and with a colorful style especially with a blockbuster whodunit. Coronel said that once journalists and citizens have had a taste of independence and freedom, it is hard to go back to the dark ages. She pointed out the immense changes in Asia in the past 20 years, among them toppled dictatorships and opening markets.3

In the aftermath of Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), Facebook became an important alternative form of communication and future emergency preparedness plans should include it. Posting a status update on Facebook was the quickest way to communicate.1

Faced with limited access, Facebook proved useful to many residents to update their relatives about their plight as we all as to ask for help. What happened during Yolanda demonstrated how media users quickly learn to adopt technologies to suit their peculiar needs during a communication network paralysis. Educating residents about the value of social media channels will make social media use during disasters more efficient.1

News exchange in Facebook is a classic example of democratization of information. Reports said that Facebook has changed the way users consume news such that searching has become highly personal and has cleared away third-party editorial judgment.2

As a social media, it makes us both the source and reciever of information. Lastly, it is the speed by which information is brought to our knowledge that gives social media an edge over other news media.2

It is the politics of ‘liking’ a particular Facebook post that somehow develops a culture of conformity, which is reinforced by cyberbullying. A lot of people have been shamed without being given the proper forum to explain themselves.2 I realized that the internet can be both a gold mine and a minefield”, says Coronel 3

Thus, the manner by which we express our disagreements over an issue paints a picture of our civility, and most importantly of how we accord respect to our neighbor. In a society with high-level of political tolerance, people do not impose their beliefs on others but seek to raise the quality of dialogue and peaceably live amid their differences. Hence, it is high-time to check not just our Facebook status but also out degree of respect toward each other.2

For decades, but especially since the EDSA ‘People Power Revolution’ restored the press freedom in the country. The Philippines has prided itself in having one of the freest, if not THE freest press in the region.4

Not everyone, ofcourse, welcomed the wild and wooly media environment that emerged with the Marcoses’ departure. As former president Fidel Ramos once declared, whenever he read the day’s papers, “some make me want to commit suicide, while others make me want to commit homicide”.4 And as he mentioned in his latest State of the Nation Address, P-Noy felt aggrieved by the almost daily slings and arrows of criticisms, leading him to wonder why he ever chose the path of public service. 4

The answer should be clear to him – and to us as well. P-Noy chose the difficult path of public service and leadership not just because of his own personal history but because he believes in democracy, as he declares again and again.4

For us Filipinos, the stalled Freedom-of-Information bill is still deterrent to good investigative reporting.3 And democracy relies in large part on freedom of the press, in freedom not just of journalists but also of the people to access all the information they deserve, the better to make the right decisions and choices when they need to.4

Teach the journalists in question some manners. Chide them for their boorishness.4 But passing the freedom-of-information bill is not only fundamental to what we proudly call a ‘free’ press but to a democratic nation as well.


1 The Philippine Daily Inquirer, ‘Disaster Preparedness Plan Must Include Social Media’. November 10, 2014. Edson Tandoc.
2 The Philippine Daily Inquirer, ‘Social Media Users Challenged: Be Respectful’. November 10, 2014. Esmeralda Abarabar.
3 The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Human Face. ‘Uncovering Asia Through Investigative Journalism’. Ma. Ceres P. Doyo.
4 The Philippine Daily Inquirer, At Large. ‘Journalists Behaving Badly’. Rina Jimenez-David.

Content Mills and Artist’s Block: The Big Connection

When I edit the copy of writers, I am compelled not by the wrong grammar or the lack of technical know-how but the absence of passion. Real, personal  writing cannot be faked. This lack of passion can stem from two things: laziness, or like how I once was, a content mill.

Just to give you a background, content mills are online businesses that can be as blatant as producing textual content for thesis papers, articles, blogging and yes, even website content.

Businesses are businesses, let’s leave it at that. They need content to fill their pages either with seo dense copy, marketing fluff or simply creative how-to’s. That’s all fine of course, we all need to make living.

But from an artist’s perspective, if you don’t like what you’re doing and it feels like a chore, your attitude will come out of the pages you produce.

Believe me, the  job (lucrative as it is) will rob the creativity out of you. It will drain you dry. Then before you know it, you have artist’s block.

You will curse the day you first held a pen. The mere thought of your gifts and skills will embarrass you.

After a day’s work of writing of what seems to be your hundredth page, you will realize that you will literally feel like a prostitute: used up and withered dry without even getting a speck of pleasure from the act itself.

There are a lot of businesses that cater to the ‘content mill’ industry, and mind you, it’s a booming one. With online businesses spreading like wildfire, content is no longer king but a god in search engines.

People devour content by the second and in large quantities: to help them shop, search, fix, learn…name it. The hunger for content will go on for years and years to come; and writers like you and me are required to produce them by the bulk!

Yet, if you look at the bigger picture, the price you have to pay will be high. Writing will feel like work. You will loose the desire to write, then your gift, once you thought could never leave you, will.

As an editor, I read these mass produced copies all the time and over the years, have developed a knack for it. A creator must first enjoy (or find the joy in) creating to produce phenomenal work.

As a writer, you are responsible for bringing back the fire in your writing. We all have to live with this type of industry, but you must motivate yourself to produce. That’s what you’re born to do: To create. Imagine a world without producing titans such as us? 😉

We are all born with an innate sense of creativity, as we are also created beings ourselves. It’s just a matter of finding the inspiration to jolt you back to wakefulness from your creative slumber. And the most important thing is don’t stop. Ever.

Get your thoughts together, let it flow, then compartmentalize. If you need someone to edit your work or give you a professional hand in crafting your copy, you know where to find me.

Creating And Building Through My Writing

My family comes from a long line of artists, thomasites and teachers. My parents, both creative experts in their respective fields, nurtured an imaginative atmosphere (writing, drawing, reading, music, etc.) making self expression quite evident at home.

I started reading at a very early age. Writing followed quickly.

Gram and my mom would often communicate with me and my brother in the English language, making it a more prominent form of discourse even if we lived in an all Filipino household.

On my part, my family challenged me a lot. I wasn’t treated as a stupid and weakly girl, hence I grew up thinking I wasn’t.

Which is why, it was of no surprise to the family, that I took Mass Communications as my field of study. I didn’t know how to design like my dad, draw like my brother, nor play the piano like my cousins. To write was the only thing I knew.

As the years went by, the quality of my writing and the genuine love for it, dwindled.

A writer who will not write is not really fit to be called a writer.

There were a lot of things to write about, but nothing excited me anymore. Sure I could write, but so can other people. What makes my work stand out from the rest?

My dad mentioned to me once that a real artist always leaves his mark. He cannot be copied because the work he creates is genuine to him alone. Only he can produce that kind of material. A fingerprint, if you will.

Then it struck me.

No one can write like I do because no one thinks like I do. No one synthesizes information like I can and have the skill to express that information to the written word.

Please excuse me if I sound like I am puffing my ego. I am not and my ego is not the point.

It only means some people write a certain way because the work they do is an extension of themselves, making every creative endeavor an experience on its own, if not, tangible as well.

I also discovered that to write means to feel strongly about a particular situation or subject matter. The writing eventually takes care of itself.

During my writing hiatus, I asked the Lord to lead me. To show me what to do with the skills he gave me. I was desperately searching for answers. As I grow in my walk with the Him, He made me realize that we are given gifts and talents for a reason. We are supposed to improve on it, use it, and share it. It is in our hands if we constantly accept the gift that He offers.

He showed me that my desire to create and build is enough in itself. Writing was simply the medium.

Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men.

 – Proverbs 22:29