Introducing the StinkyFish Podcast. IPO & Philippine Culture of Theft

Here we go again! After calling out the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines in my blog post, it made the rounds of social media and mainstream news.  ABS-CBN, Philstar, When in Manila, thousands of views, netizens comments on the IPOPHL FB page. I myself took part of the fun until I was banned by them 😦 At least I got a rating in. They can’t delete those. So with all that news coverage and comments, they had to make a statement and in typical lawyery fashion, they did and boy was it typical of the cancer that eats at Philippine government.

Here’s the PDF if you want an “official” copy. Apparently you have to release it on PDF to be official. Now let’s breakdown the 2 last points. You can watch the video below for my reaction to the whole thing below…more on that later.

– Baybayin characters are commonly used as in the logos of several government agencies such as the National Museum, National Library, NCCA, AFP and others.

– Baybayin is an ancient script, and no one has the exclusive right to use it.

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First of all, so what if Baybayin is used on several government agencies. What is the point? Did they steal their logos from a designer? All their logos are original artwork. How does that justify stealing?

The 2nd point is where I didn’t expect them to go because even a child knows that if they create artwork using ANY writing system, they know it’s their personal creation. It’s also the same language Walker Underwear used to justify stealing my IP (artwork).

They mentioned “ancient” so does that mean that if it wasn’t, it would be OK? What’s their definition of ancient or did they just get that from somewhere else? They forgot that they’re dealing with Baybayin experts. For arguments sake, let’s say that it’s true that nobody can claim IP for Baybayin because it’s an ancient writing system no matter if they designed art based on the characters in illustrator or painted them. Using IPO’s same definition, the roman alphabet is also an ancient script so anything created using it as a base for the artwork cannot be claimed as IP. What does that now say about the logo for Shoe Mart? Is it not protected because nobody has the exclusive rights to the roman alphabet?

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Here’s something I created for a Surf Company. The Baybayin says Lakas. Because Baybayin is an ancient script, it’s not my intellectual property and anyone can copy the artwork on the shirt and use it for commercial purposes?

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Can people also use the SM logo and make products with it? Hell no! They would protect roman alphabet design to death but since they themselves stole a Baybayin based design, it’s OK for others to do so. Because IPO doesn’t know shit about Baybayin, they treat is differently. They’re basically saying that they will protect the roman alphabet but not Baybayin. How colonial minded can you get? The issue isn’t Baybayin but the artwork created from Baybayin. Get it? prePhilippine script design, typography, art and etc have to be protected the same way the roman alphabet would be. IPO was recently one of the organizers of a jewelry competition. Since nobody owns the rights to precious metals and stones, are their creations not intellectual property? Their logic is extremely flawed.

I do have to thank IPO though for getting me annoyed enough to take action and finally get my new podcast up and running. It’s called Stinky Fish podcast named after my upcoming documentary, Sulat ng Malansang Isda. IPO is definitely a Stinky Fish. Future podcasts will probably be audio only because video takes too long to edit 🙂

Here’s a Dropbox link as mentioned in the video to some of the evidence including concept designs presented, an invitation as a Baybayin resource speaker and timestamps. Want more evidence? Wait for John Leyson to drop the bomb soon.

The sad part as I read though all the hundreds of comments about this issue is that Filipinos aren’t surprised this happened. They’re used to theft, corruption, and being let down.

PS: Ticao Masbate Rizal stone was correct 🙂 My prediction of this Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines issue is that it will go to trial and IPO will win because of corruption.

PSS: The way IPO handled the issue shows how backwards thinking they are. You never delete comments! It shows your weakness and pisses off the people even more. Don’t be anonymous cowards. Sign your stupid PDF statement and let the public know who’s in charge. Also, don’t let your dumb employees comment on the issue praising where she works and giving you a 5 star rating while pretending to be a regular person. Below is a screenshot of Szn Crd defending IPO and rating 5 stars. Thanks to 龍瀧幽歌‎ from Baybayin discussion group on FB. That’s free advice. No charge.

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Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines steals Baybayin logo

Yes, you read that right. Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines stole their Baybayin logo. As you may know, I’ve gone through own issues with theft from Philippine companies. For the record, I contacted the agency for help but never got a response. My buddy Norman de los Santos goes through this several times a year as well with his fonts. This one issue is special because the agency that’s supposed to be the protectors of Intellectual Property in the Philippines stole a concept presented to them during the pitch phase! Design veterans know what I’m talking about. You have your pitch presentation and the client seems to like it then all of a sudden they used your ideas in the product. Very shady shit. So around 2011, John Leyson, who at that time was running the design agency, Liquid and Liquid pitched a redesign of the logo.

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As you can see there’s quite a difference from the cluttered original version. Below is John’s explanation of the logo and you’ll see that they even copied the description.
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From IPO
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This type of blatant behavior coming from the very top is disturbing. It sets a precedence for other companies who’ve already been stealing artwork. This is not fair use or taking inspiration. How can the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines enforce IP laws when they’ve broken it themselves and refused to acknowledge it? John Leyson and team have tried to resolve the issue directly with them but the arrogance of the agency forced this issue to be public. We’ve called them out on their FB page but they just delete the comments. Stay tuned….

EVENT: Oakland Museum 8/21

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This Friday, 8/21, I’ll be with Ray of Malaya Designs and Joe of Bayani Art at “Friday Nights @ OMCA” 5–9 pm. We’ll be representing preFilipino culture with pendants, apparel, and artwork. Click here for more info.

Join OMCA and Off the Grid on 10th Street every Friday for a taste of local music, food, art, and culture! Savor California beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages around the Koi Pond at the Blue Oak beer garden. Enjoy half-price admission, live music, hands-on activities for kids, and extended OMCA Store hours. Bring the whole family to OMCA for a sampling of the best in Bay Area curbside cuisine!

What to expect on August 21:

5–9 pm: Half-off gallery admission for adults, free for ages 18 and under
5–9 pm: Local beer and wine specials in the Blue Oak beer garden
5–9 pm: All Museum galleries open late
5–9 pm: Gourmet food trucks from Off the Grid featuring the best in local cuisine: get the weekly list here
5–9 pm: Gardens open for family fun, with a special lawn bar by Blue Oak café and lawn games available for free with a photo ID
5–9 pm: New! Family-friendly Books & Blankets program available for free with a photo ID at the Level 2 ticketing desk
5–9 pm: OMCA Store pop-up in the Redwood Burl area
5–9 pm: Featured artists with ties to Pacific Island communities of California selling unique pieces, from sculpture to surf-inspired art and jewelry selling their wares in Redwood Burl area
5–6:30 pm: July resident DJ Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist spinning hits in the 10th Street Amphitheater
5–8 pm: Family-friendly drop-in art activity: make a bee antenna, inspired by the special exhibition Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact
6:30–7 pm: Hula dance demonstration with Kumu Mahealani Uchiyama of The Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance in the 10th Street Amphitheater
7–9 pm: Unique Polynesian music by Mahea Uchiyama in the 10th Street Amphitheater
7–7:30 pm: a pop-up talk, featuring artist Mark Thompson on our relationship to honeybees in the Natural Sciences Gallery

Cost: Half-price gallery admission for adults, ages 18 and under are free. Admission for Members is always free. Cash bar. Prices vary for Off the Grid food trucks.

Transportation: OMCA is located one block from the Lake Merritt BART Station. Event parking is available at the Museum for a $5 flat fee after 5 pm.

Presented in partnership with Off the Grid: Lake Merritt @ OMCA.  Friday Nights @ OMCA is made possible in part by generous support from Bank of America and the Koret Foundation. Friday Nights @ OMCA art programs are made possible by generous support from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund. Media support provided by East Bay Express.

 

EVENT: The Manila Collectible co 3/29 in the Philippines

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I’ll be in the Philippines 3/29 at the Manila Collectible co

THE SWITCH!
Right after our final tour of The Manila Collectible Co., you’ll get to meet Kristian Kabuay in his live Calligraphy and Baybayin Exhibit! Can’t wait to see everyone there!

Free Entrance. 3rd Floor Villa Blanca Bldg. (behind Manila Cathedral), Cabildo cor. Beaterio Sts., Intramuros, Manila.
https://www.facebook.com/events/788415011212040/

Team Manila goes Baybayin

One of the Philippines most popular brands, Team Manila, releases a Baybayin collection. I remember living next to these guys back in the day in Ortigas. Now look where the brand is! They’ve got stores all over the country and brought a sense of “Streetwear” to the Philippine masses. In their Baybayin Collection, they use the script as a pattern rather than words. Maybe in order to avoid mistakes? Notice the use of the diacritic markers similar to Arabic calligraphy. Props to Team Manila! This is great for the promotion of prePhilippine scripts. At least they used their own original artwork rather than ripping of artists like Walker Underwear.

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The roots of Alibata on the internet

Why are there so many crappy posts about  Alibata on the internet? 2 words: SEO Philippines. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines. – Wikipedia

In 2007, there was a contest to see who could get their website to rank the highest in search engine page results if someone searched for Alibata. This resulted many posts with duplicate content that didn’t provide much context.

“I think at that time I was going with the bayanihan flavor, so the contest keyword had to be definitely Filipino with a low SERP footprint. I wanted to indirectly help put focus also on the subject.” Marc Hil Macalua of SEO Philippines

While the spirit of the contest was good, most of the authors didn’t care about educating the public on the script and frankly don’t know much of it. These websites were abandoned right after the contest was over but the damage was done. If you search for Alibata, these sites still come up.

Here’s a sample post entry that polluted the internet around 2007-2008.

http://philippinesparadise.blogspot.com/2007/12/alibata-2nd-contest-keyword.html
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A post about the mechanics of the contest
http://elmersparadise.blogspot.com/2008/02/final-post-for-alibata.html
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Here’s another example with a bit more detail. Mostly copy and pasted info from Wikipedia. Notice the category “SEO Contest”. 
http://www.shawie.com/2007/12/16/alibata-ancient-philippine-writing-system/

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 3.52.43 PMBecause this post showed up high in search engine results and has more content compared to the others, people started asking for assistance and commenting. Nowhere else on his website does he write about the script. People don’t see a response and try to figure it out themselves leading to errors.

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Finally! Alibata may soon be dead….sort of

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Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission of Filipino Language) posted this viral image on their educational FB page Wikapedia. Basically, it says that Alibata isn’t true. It was invented by a teacher who thought it came from the Arabs. Baybayin is the native alphabet of the country. The root is Baybay meaning spelling. It’s ours and not borrowed.

There’s a few issues with image:
1) Hindi totoo ang Alibata (Alibata isn’t true) is a bit weird and misleading because it’s vague. What’s not true? Alibata the word or the writing? Why isn’t it true?
2) Bata isn’t the 2nd character. It’s Ba
3) Baybayin isn’t an alphabet but an alphasyllabary (Abugida)
4) Hindi hiniram (not borrowed) is weird wording as well. Baybayin along with most of South East Asian scripts have roots in India. Is that considered borrowed? Are they insinuating that Baybayin was 100% created in the Philippines without any outside influence?

Virgilio S. Almario, of KWF wrote a blog post with additional details (some incorrect) about why it’s not Alibata along with challenges in changing all the textbooks. What was interesting was that he also mentioned that mass media is also a reason why Alibata spread. The root of that is that they learned it in school through incorrect textbooks.

At the end of the day, if it’s called Alibata, Baybayin or Super Pinoy Power Writing, they haven’t provided any value other than a sense of “cultural pride” to students who want to be lawyers, entertainers or call center agents. It unfortunately is all about economics. That’s the challenge for any endangered writing system/language in the so-called Philippines, Indonesia, Malayasia, etc. So what if DeafEd changes Alibata to Baybayin in textbooks? Will there be new surrounding content to give proper historical, cultural and modern context? What is their value proposition other than passing a test, writing the national anthem and feeling good about yourself for a couple days? Rather than sensationalizing the ancientness of Baybayin and unproven stones, the government should be more focus on living scripts such Surat Mangyan, Kulitan, and save Surat Buhid and Tagbanwa from really becoming extinct.

As expected, there was an ocean of comments about this ranging from stupid, interesting and weird…

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The legacy of Hector Santos & Bayani Mendoza de Leon

Hector Santos

We lost one of the pioneers of Baybayin the other month. Hector Santos passed away July 30, 2014. Hector along with Paul Morrow were one of the firsts to publish legit information about prePhilippine scripts on the internet back in the mid-90’s. I remember the first time I came across Hector’s website. I was living in the Philippines going to school when the internet came out. I used to buy these month old reggae magazines and started to see websites advertised. I wrote all these down and once we got the internet, I looked them all up. I then came across the Yahoo search engine and searched for things like Filipino History, hip hop, buddhism, and the Philippine script. I was surprised to come across “A Philippine Leaf” by Hector. Blew my mind. I didn’t find any of this info in books for years. This kickstarted my deep interest in prePhilippine culture. At that time, he used to have fonts that were on floppy discs for sale. By the time I was able to order them in the US, he advised me that they were sold out and not sure if he would be making another batch. I’ve bugged him about once a year for an interview either in person (he lived in LA) or via email. Never heard from him. Because his website is so invaluable and we don’t know how long it will last, I’ve downloaded the contents and mirrored them at www.bibingka.baybayin.com. Here’s a direct link to his bio.

Bayani Mendoza de Leon past away about a year ago and I actually just heard about his death a few months ago while doing a google search. My first exposure to Bayani was his book, Baybayin, the Ancient Script of the Philippines: A Concise Manual in the 90’s I purchased at a festival. It was the first time I thought about modern ways to write the script. This then lead me to look at his resources and even finding a copy of his uncle’s book, from 1972  “Pinadaling Pag-aaral ng Katutubong Abakadang Pilipino by Ricardo Mendoza. Unlike Hector, Bayani was very open to being interviewed. We exchanged several long emails that culminated in what it looks like is his only interview about Baybayin that can be read here. Too bad I didn’t have the opportunity to go down to San Diego to interview him for my upcoming documentary.