One of my readers once aptly described Marketman as a “jerk magnet.” I think this was a reaction to one of my outrageous service rants, and frankly, I absolutely ADORE the moniker. In fact, I am thinking of having a t-shirt custom made with the saying, then wearing it in public frequently, as if taunting more jerks to be attracted to my space. Ever since I moved back to Manila, and occasionally when I lived in various Asian cities prior to that, I always felt indignant when something unfair or totally unacceptable from a service standpoint occurred. And more often than not, I let management of the offending company know about it, partially to let them know I wasn’t happy with the situation, partially to provide feedback to help them improve their services and partially just because I felt that if no one spoke up, the same thing would keep on happening again and again. I have also spoken up when the issue of intellectual property rights or plagiarism or lack of attribution crops up; for example, when someone “stole” my photo of yemas (here and here) and it was published in the Inquirer newspaper a couple of years ago, when I alerted Sassy Lawyer over at Pinoy Cook that a recipe of hers seemed to have been plagiarized in a Manila Bulletin article, and recently, when I pointed out some potential plagiarism issues in a Reggie Aspiras article in the Inquirer (here, here, here and here!)…
So you can imagine the speed at which my neck hairs bolted upright while sitting in the business class section of a PAL flight to Cebu (free ticket, on points), and I opened this Mabuhay Magazine and turned to a page with a little blurb on budbud kabog. It’s bad enough I had a minor brouhaha over budbud kabog before (read here and here)… So what is the “problem” this time around? Several months ago, a Ms. Ira Inquimboy of the Mabuhay Magazine (Eastgate Publishing) asked me to write a short piece (80 words or so) on budbud kabog. I agreed to do it because I felt more people should try this great native delicacy AND if it featured Manang Lima, a gracious older lady who is one of the few remaining artisanal makers of budbud kabog in Mandaue, Cebu, who still sells her goods road side, THAT would be a good thing. I wrote a draft article, sent it to Ms. Inquimboy, with several of my own photos of budbud kabog… I revised the short blurb a couple of times at their request. Ms. Inquimboy emailed to ask me how to attribute the article and I gave my real name for record purposes, but asked that the blurb be credited to Marketman or www.marketmanila.com. Simple, right?
So the good news is that the blurb came out in the magazine. It is essentially what I wrote, with a few edits. It DOES BRING POSITIVE ATTENTION to a slowly disappearing delicacy, and to a wonderful woman who deserves the spotlight. Manang Lima reports she has gotten phone orders for SEVERAL THOUSAND pieces of budbud kabog since the magazine was published and placed on PAL planes on November 1, 2007. I called Manang Lima to let her know that I took a copy from my plane to give to her and when she visited my office in Cebu, bearing the most FABULOUS biko slathered with latik, she had NO CLUE that the article had come out. She was completely stunned to see her name in print and this now explained the sudden surge in her orders from unknown lovers of native delicacies. A non-jerk magnet would end the story there… :)
But the JERK MAGNET in me would like to point out one little important detail that was left out. The magazine, and presumably Ms. Inquimboy as the responsible party, or her editor(s), somehow FORGOT to provide a SOURCE for their article. Ms. Inquimboy didn’t even know what kabog WAS, nor that it was called millet in English nor that it grew wild in the foothills of Northern Cebu BEFORE she emailed me months ago. I would like to think that they were just CARELESS and FORGOT to mention that the writeup was provided by Marketman and/or marketmanila.com. They likewise forgot to mention that the photo which they used seen up above, is a photo that I took and own. They forgot to get back to me by email to confirm what they were going to pay for the write-up if they used it, though they confirmed PHP1,250 per photo used, and oddly, despite the magazine having been in their planes for a month, I think they even FORGOT to pay me for the article. Actually, I wouldn’t have insisted on payment if they just ATTRIBUTED it properly to the website, but now I think I should INSIST on payment and an ERRATUM (which is useless when it comes out months later), and promptly donate the proceeds to my public school feeding program as soon as I get the measly sum of say PHP3,000 or so.
Am I being unnecessarily touchy? I don’t think so. Why? Because almost every single other blurb in the magazine DOES HAVE ATTRIBUTION or at least the relevant website address of the underlying subject. Resorts, hotels and restaurants featured have their email addresses, and in some cases credits their author. In other cases, including the photo RIGHT NEXT to my budbud photos, the credit is given to the one who took the photo, right there in print. So, were they just being careless? Hmmm. And there is one last dig from Marketman. In a recent post I did on why I didn’t typically write for newspapers and magazines, one of my readers, a professional food writer, Margaux Salcedo, took strong exception to my comments that many food writers must be writing for other reasons than just professional ones, I wrote, in part, and I quote:
3. … In other words, there is no way that many good writers would VOLUNTARILY AGREE TO WRITE A REGULAR WEEKLY COLUMN FOR A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER under those conditions (poor compensation in exchange for loss of ownership over article) unless:
– they get something else out of it… like referrals for business, or it attracts customers to a business they have on the side
– it gives them professional credibility that results in other work or income from another source
– it gets them freebies of some sort; such as travel for lifestyle writers, hotel stays, free meals, free giveaways, etc.
– or they simply want to pump up their egos and bask in the glow of some form of recognition or fame.
Now, I DO AGREE THAT THERE MIGHT BE A FEW EXCEPTIONS to these negative suggestions, and SOME GOOD FOOD COLUMNISTS who do write for the sake of writing and some HAVE MANAGED to negotiate copyright retention, but these are few and far between, and it is usually someone who writes about a more obscure passion and who is truly dedicated to a cause that could benefit from the resulting publicity.
So why do I raise this issue again? Because it just so happens that the blurb directly below mine in the Mabuhay magazine is one by a professional food writer, Margaux Salcedo (yes, she gets proper attribution), is about Nana Meng’s, her own family’s brilliant chocolate business, and I am guessing, she didn’t write the blurb for free as she stated that she wouldn’t do that for another magazine. Hmmm, maybe you do have to say you are a professional food writer to get some “respect” in local publications.
So Ms. Inquimboy, and your editor, Mr. Simeon S. Ventura, Jr., over at Eastgate Publishing, would you care to explain the lack of attribution for the write-up and photo of Marketman??? And in case you conveniently lost our email communications of several months back, here is my Mabuhay Miles Premier Elite Card Number 301 906 813. You can find my name and contact details on file. And yes, I do fly your airline a good 40-50+ times a year or so… And my immediate family and staff chalk up 200+ flights a year in total. A factoid that might only be interesting to you, particularly after this fiasco with Cebu Pacific more than a year ago (here, here and here). P.S. The phrase “jerk magnet” as used in this post refers to attracting ridiculous situations such as the one described above. Oh, and Margaux, I still do read and enjoy your food articles… :)