30 Aug2012

If you were following the recent plagiarism case involving a Philippine Senator, you may want to read this really good piece written by Miguel Syjuco in the New York times, here. And note the last few lines where he poses a question about “how one could have taken a pill that hadn’t even been introduced to the market” towards the end of his piece. It’s reminiscent of a recent Supreme Court Justice who started amassing dollars while he was in college and when it actually wasn’t easy or legal to buy foreign currency then… Anyone with enough brains to read that piece should be embarrassed at how pathetic it makes some Filipinos sound. In other countries, senior government officials resign over these types of things; here, they bluster their way as though nothing is wrong and that they’re just being ganged up on. Pathetic. Thankfully, at the other end of the spectrum is a pinoy who can write so eloquently about the issue… A very good read.



  1. andrew lim says:

    There’s actually more of Syjuco’s writing on Sottogate in Rappler, as well as Raissa Robles’ blog. The other writers whom Sotto plagiarized have come forward as well, and complained about the plagiarism.

    The latest development is the discovery that Tito Sotto actually recorded a fun song about pills and family planning in 1977, a mere two years after his son’s death. (look it up in Youtube, “Family Planning Department” in Tito Vic and Joey’s Tough Hits Volume 1. )

    Makes you wonder how accurate his storytelling was. How can you make this song when you are supposed to be grieving about your son and blaming the time-traveling contraceptive? :)

    Aug 30, 2012 | 5:45 pm


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  3. MP says:

    And the good Senator just said: “walang krimen na plagiarism”… OMG..

    This lying thief has no shame! He used his dead son to push his selfish agenda!

    Aug 30, 2012 | 6:02 pm

  4. grace says:

    Thanks for the link to the video, andrew lim. This is another proof that he lied through his teeth. It’s irrelevant that there are no laws against plagiarism. Someone should push for an ethics investigation.

    Aug 30, 2012 | 6:52 pm

  5. Sara says:

    Another article related to the topic. Quite amusing :)

    By: Conrado de Quiros
    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    It’s gotten a lot more hilarious. Hector Villacorta, Tito Sotto’s chief of staff, says plagiarism is no big deal, the Senate does it all the time. That is so particularly with old bills that were not passed into law: Senators just repackage them and put them out as their own bills. “Copying is a common practice. Why do you need to think of a brand-new measure when a good one that was not enacted already exists? Why reinvent the wheel?”

    In fact, plagiarism is no big deal not just with bills. We copy all the time. “We plagiarized the US Constitution. All the amendments became our Bill of Rights. But do they call us a plagiaristic country? No, because the law is based on precedent.”

    Villacorta goes on: “The Bible reached us today because the monks copied from the Greeks. Everything really started from a little copying. Even our image was copied from God. We are all plagiarists.”

    You are rendered almost speechless by this. But sorry Hector, no, not really.

    To begin with, it’s astonishing that Sotto’s office, which at one point headed the Senate committee on intellectual property rights, should be clueless about the differences between borrowing and infringing, between retelling and plagiarizing. Indeed, that it should be clueless about the difference between folk, collective or anonymous authorship and specific, individual and proprietary authorship.

    The difference is patent. You copy the idea of the iPad, you’ll be fine, legal or otherwise, as you can see from the plethora of tablets crowding the market. You copy the specific design of the iPad, you are going to have problems, as you can see in the legal battles Samsung and others are fighting with Steve Jobs’ favorite company. You tell the story of Perseus and Andromeda and Pandora or any of the other Greek myths and legends, you will be guilty only of Western fetish. You tell the story of Perseus and Andromeda and Pandora using the words of Thomas Bullfinch without attribution, you will be guilty of plagiarism.

    You copy the entire US Constitution word for word, only the nationalists will mind. You copy the “Star-Spangled Banner” word for word, not only John Stafford Smith and Francis Scott Key will mind.

    As to pirating previous bills, who the hell cares if senators and congressmen copy them left and right without attribution? They can only be guilty of unoriginality or bad taste, the latter owing to the fact that surely there must have been good reason for the bills not having passed in the first place?

    I did say something similar when Supreme Court Justice Mariano del Castillo’s friends flew to his side and said it was common practice for justices to raid previous decisions and lift entire portions of them. Who cares? But it is one thing to do that and quite another to lift word for word a legal opinion on comfort women by a definite author without attribution. The first again is just bad taste, the second is plagiarism. What makes Del Castillo’s crime all the more heinous is that he did not just plagiarize, he twisted the author’s, Evan Criddle’s, words to mean the very opposite of what he did. Criddle argued that the State had the right to prosecute the case of the comfort women abroad, Del Castillo argued (using Criddle’s own words) it did not. That is foul.

    God in fact might object in the same way to our claim that we were made in his image and likeness. “If you’re going to plagiarize,” he might thunder forth, “Plagiarize correctly and not the Del Castillo way. What you are is definitely not my image and what you do is definitely not my likeness. It is the opposite of them!”

    But whether it’s just copying ideas or downright plagiarizing them, Villacorta’s justifications only show us how wretched things have become. The plagiarizing shows the depths to which this country’s respect for writers, never mind for authorship, has plunged. The people who have been caught plagiarizing have blamed their staff for it, as though they were not themselves ultimately responsible. But even if we grant it, why in God’s name did Tito Sotto, or indeed Manny Pangilinan, with all the millions at their disposal hire writers whose talents lay only in the capacity to raid other people’s works? Or worse, pa-plagiarize na rin lang, prefer to plagiarize Oprah Winfrey and a blog from the Internet to advance their causes instead of some more substantial author?

    You can afford de campanilla lawyers and other consultants but only pipitsugin writers? Serves you right.

    The “mere” copying, on the other hand, shows how little we’ve advanced from the stage of imitating and aping and mimicking. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery to the imitated, but it is the shallowest form of accomplishment for the imitator. We’ve always been known as a people with an extraordinary talent for mimicry, we’ve never really been known—Edsa aside—as one with an extraordinary talent for originality, Villacorta’s assertions can only deepen that impression.

    If it’s true that senators in particular and we in general just copy and copy, then we’re in very deep organic fertilizer. That isn’t comforting, that’s alarming. That’s so whether or not the copying represents borderline or outright cases of plagiarism. It’s one thing not to reinvent the wheel, it’s another not to invent anything else. Senators are there to inspire and uplift us with original thought, and show us the best we can be. They are not there to parrot, pirate and show us we can always get away with it. If Villacorta’s characterization of the Senate is accurate, and it may very well be so, then that not very august body deserves only (to make the proper attribution) Cherie Gil’s withering line in the movie “Bituing Walang Ningning”:

    You’re nothing but second-rate, trying hard copycats.

    Aug 30, 2012 | 10:19 pm

  6. Papa Ethan says:

    Why do I suddenly remember “Iskul Bukol”?

    Aug 31, 2012 | 12:08 am

  7. Marketman says:

    Sara, yes, I read that one as well. At least there seem to be enough writers out there who get it… I am wondering if the person in question assumes any educated voter is such a small percentage of his constituency that he frankly doesn’t give a damn… since he isn’t elected necessarily by a majority of folks who even think about the consequences or ethics of plagiarism… btw, I posted a reply to your other comment on the Zubuchon copying post… Thanks.

    Aug 31, 2012 | 12:31 am

  8. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Indeed, a good read, but really sad to know. Plagiarism is bad itself, but to hear such Mickey Mouse arguements by the offenders is just as sad. It really does make Filipinos look bad. But the plagiarism is symptomatic of so many wrongs that we can’t seem to rid ourselves…as a people and a culture. Its equally bad when you see such things here in the US. Ignorance is not a defense.

    Aug 31, 2012 | 1:17 am

  9. Tercer says:

    Our “damaged culture”, damaged morals, damaged ethics. Even now at the merest perception of the slightest shadow cast upon our false pride, we bluster our way through with proclamations that our “palabra de honor” is beyond doubt. Sad to say, so much of our people are simply greedy opportunists … wolves, no … more like jackals disguised as lambs.

    On a positive note, the coverage of this issue on the internet is encouraging. Many years ago before the advent of the internet, no one would have been the wiser. But ware … even now Enrile and company wants to restrict the bloggers (under guise of “for their protection”). Using patronizing words and manner that beguile the ignorant and fools.

    Aug 31, 2012 | 1:21 am

  10. Sister says:

    A total embarrassment. What next?

    Aug 31, 2012 | 3:08 am

  11. PITS, MANILA says:

    how difficult is it to make your own piece? and how difficult is it to acknowledge sources? mahirap ba talaga? KATE TURABIAN can help you with footnotes and bibiliography … it’s funny how we were taught about these rules as early as grade 7 and more so in high school. you always acknowledge your sources. and properly, of course. the word ‘plagiarism’ from way back was always a stimulus for shock and bewilderment for us. what happened?

    Aug 31, 2012 | 5:14 am

  12. Fat Bernie says:

    MM, that’s a good piece by Miguel Syjuco!…And that’s the reality about church and government in the Philippines. It’s sickening but it’s the truth. You always present the good and bad sides of the Philippines, and not a lot of Filipinos (seriously!) would do that because the bad parts are really quite embarassing. But you do, so thank you and I admire you for that!

    Aug 31, 2012 | 6:51 am

  13. millet says:

    MM, some readers may actually think you’re being petty when you rant against those who have copied your logo or your photos, but in my book, that is major. it all starts with the small things, things people may brush off as “logo lang naman”, or “it’s just a few lines”.

    what’s galling and appalling is the way sotto brushes off criticism by saying “blogger lang ‘yun”, and even claiming to have been the victim of cyberbullying. all i can say is, bring it on, go dig yourself deeper into that blackhole, sotto!

    Aug 31, 2012 | 9:22 am

  14. Gigi says:

    You should read Raissa Robles’ blog. They unearthed a song that Tito Sotto recorded a few years after his son’s death. It had humorous (I think) mentions about the pill.

    Aug 31, 2012 | 1:04 pm

  15. MP says:

    Andrew Lim, I love the poem you wrote in response to joey de leon’s …

    I told my friend that if i ever bump into the senator and joey, i only have 2 words for them: eat bulaga!

    she said, no, the more appropriate 2 words are: pepsi paloma… lol…

    Aug 31, 2012 | 8:53 pm

  16. Cecile says:

    omg! pepsi paloma! i remember bits of that!

    Sep 3, 2012 | 9:14 am

  17. Cyrus says:

    “Why would I quote from a blogger? She’s just a blogger.” Our defense minister here in Germany was kick out of his throne because of copy paste. He cited some lines but never acknowledge it, Sotto must go!

    Sep 3, 2012 | 2:34 pm

  18. atbnorway says:

    “Si Aling Tinay laging mapagbigay,
    Lagi na lang siyang nanganganay;
    Sa sampung taon, anak ay panay,
    Nakabuo siya ng isang barangay!”

    (Source: Tough Hits Vol.1, Family Planning Department, Tito, Vic, Joey)
    I can’t remember the correct order in naming sources. At least I named my source, hehehe.

    The senator earned money making fun of women with many children. What a hypocrite.

    Sep 3, 2012 | 4:22 pm

  19. Miguel says:

    While I, like the majority of the Filipinos (I believe) are for the RH Bill, we should not fail to take notice of the people who are picking up the fight with us. The politicians, the drug companies, the vested interests, etc.


    Sep 3, 2012 | 6:26 pm

  20. mary chen says:

    MM I am with you in your quest for the RH bill to be passed. Senator Sotto’s rant about his not doing any wrongdoing makes my blood boil. and that i know he has a song that encapsulates the essence of population makes my blood boil even stronger. I wont let this pass. My mind is really spinning…how could he noh? why???

    Sep 4, 2012 | 11:34 am

  21. Rob says:

    This incident with Sotto is so shameful…This is what our country has come to. Plagiarism is no laughing matter. I personally know that plagiarism can be a ground for expulsion in certain universities around the world. It really ticks me off to see how he is being coddled by certain sectors. What hypocrites… Maybe Sotto should fire his staff for incompetency because we all know he did not write the speech himself. Poor Sotto for having to take the brunt of the outrage and the nerve of his chief of staff for his reaction to incident. And we wonder why other nations still view us as a nation of illiterates and scoundrels?

    Sep 4, 2012 | 5:23 pm

  22. Part Time Homemaker says:

    Oops he did it again! Translating Kennedy’s speech to Tagalog this time. How shameful! Sotto resign please!!!


    Sep 6, 2012 | 12:08 am

  23. Part Time Homemaker says:

    Hi MM and everyone, check this out for a break from all the serious debates on Sotto and his plagiarism. This link had me laughing out loud:


    Sep 6, 2012 | 12:23 am

  24. Monty says:

    To make matters worse, here’s what Enrile had to say: “Magpanukala tayo ng batas at ilagay natin doon kung ano ang mga karapatan ng mga may blogs para sa ganoon ay maliwanag.” Sotto readily agreed to this suggestion. This is what happens when you combine a Martial Law enforcer with a comedian.

    Sep 6, 2012 | 9:00 pm

  25. Kas says:

    i thought it was shocking how the pinoy templars attacked miguel syjuco for the sins of his father, especially since miguel’s written how his father’s actually against the rh bill. i read somewhere, maybe an interivew or something, how miguel hasnt talk to his dad for years over disagreements they have over politics and his choice to become a writer.

    i’m talking about this blog posting someone put in their comment:

    grabe naman, diba? i’d hate it if who i am was judged acording to who i’m related to, wouldnt you? kudos to miguel for standing up on this issue & even going against his own dad!

    obviously the pinoy templars had nothing bad against miguel, that’s why they did it.

    Sep 18, 2012 | 7:14 am

  26. Lava Bien says:

    In the Senate University you can copy other people’s work and submit them as your own.

    Try that in any decent University.
    My daughter’s English High School Freshman class warns that if any students are found copying or plagiarizing without proper attribution they will get an automatic F

    Sep 19, 2012 | 2:28 am


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