Why does Maria hate Mocha?

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RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

First part of a series rapping Rappler

‘Maria’ is Maria Ressa, CEO of the website Rappler.com, which she claims has become the third largest news website in the country in just four years.

Mocha is Mocha (Margaux) Uson, a pro-Duterte blogger whose blog has built up a huge following in just a few months of 4 million viewers. Ressa herself doesn’t dispute that data, and even wrote that last September Mocha’s blog had a bigger audience than Rappler.

That points to why the former CNN reporter and ABS-CBN executive hates Mocha. In her article in her website, Ressa oozed with a convent-bred señora’s disgust for Mocha when she described her “as a singer dancer whose trademark gyrations and near-explicit sexual moves titillated Filipinos since 2006” and “who pivoted from sexy dancer to political blogger after an interview with President-elect Duterte.”


The subtext of Ressa’s article is obvious: “How can this sexy-dancer-turned-blogger with little money have a bigger audience than Rappler, funded by a big foreign and local businessman?”

It also doesn’t seem coincidental that right after her piece on Mocha was posted, Maria announced in her tweet: “Time to take back the Internet. Time to take back social media.”

While that haughty call is not even original, used before by many of similar temperament, recently by US presidential candidate Donald Trump, it riled Filipino netizens who asked the obvious question, “Did she ever own it?” Rocky Gonzalez of the popular pro-Duterte site mindanation.com branded her as the cyberworld’s equivalent of a hacendera with “a deluded sense of ownership” of the Philippine web.

After Ressa’s article and tweet, there has been a surge of tweets and Facebook posts against Mocha, with not a few calling her a slut. In her anger, did Ressa have a hand in the online petition asking Facebook to close down Mocha’s blog? “The Days of the Mocha Uson Blog Are Now Numbered,” was the obviously happy headline of the article on it by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rappler’s ideological sister.

Left, Rappler’s CEO and executive editor Ressa; right, Mocha of Mocha Uson’s blog

Left, Rappler’s CEO and executive editor Ressa; right, Mocha of Mocha Uson’s blog

Ressa in her article, however, didn’t claim that Mocha’s blog has got to have a big following because male Filipinos are titillated by the fact that a former sexy dancer is now writing about politics, especially as the blog has lots of her photos, which I would think is the logical explanation.

Instead, Ressa implies (as she couldn’t present an iota of evidence) that the success of Mocha’s blog is the result of artificial “techie” methods she alleges are used mostly by President Duterte’s operatives on the web. Among such tricks she says, are bots (“robots”) that multiply netizens’ “likes” of a website and fake Facebook pages. She implies – as she can’t prove – that these tricks explain Mocha’s huge following.

Demonizing Facebook
What is very surprising is that Ressa even demonizes Facebook, and its “algorithms” which, she says, are “harmful to democracy” and “caters to human weaknesses.” What Ressa is saying, really: Since Facebook has given Mocha a huge following, Facebook’s algorithms, its formula for driving netizens to a particular FB account, are flawed.

Ressa is either being hypocritical, or she just doesn’t know what Rappler really is.

In an interview in the Nieman Foundation magazine just a few months after Rappler went online in 2012, Ressa boasted that in just a month’s time, the site reached a web traffic (roughly, the number of people logging in to it) that took the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s website a decade to achieve.

She didn’t realize what she was really boasting about.

Rappler grew that fast in a month not because of excellence in its news reportage, opinion pieces, or exclusive investigative pieces that broke new ground, so that people rushed to log on to it. Indeed, it still lacks these three features of a good newspaper. Can you remember any real scoop or enlightening opinion essay in Rappler?

Rappler grew to its huge size today because of its use of expensive web technology, and techniques most of the biggest commercial websites in the West routinely use to expand their internet presence, which are really of the same type of tech tricks on the web, Ressa alleged Mocha and Duterte operatives were using.

Ressa criticized Facebook and its algorithms, apparently ignorant that Rappler had allegedly contracted in the past four years not a few tech firms specializing in what’s called search-engine optimization, a discipline that analyzes such algorithms in order to tweak websites so that these will rise to the upper rungs of a Google search, or will result in more Facebook users going to that site.

Think back, how did you first learn of Rappler’s existence? In Facebook or Twitter. Rappler, I was told, spent huge amounts of money to have Rappler’s posts or those of its agents boosted on Facebook.

Rather than focusing on good journalism or providing new content (e.g., the highly successful Huffington Post had dozens of commentators and bloggers, whom mainstream media could not have accommodated), Rappler has resorted to cheap commercial tricks to increase its traffic, such as giving away coupons for products and services. Indeed, after four years, none of its more than two dozen reporters have distinguished themselves as journalists breaking new ground, except of course one who because of her weird antics and questions in a press conferences Duterte couldn’t resist making fun of.

I should know about these web tricks for increasing traffic. I was senior vice president and editor-in-chief of inq7.net, the joint website of Philippine Daily Inquirer and GMA7 News in 2000 — 16 years ago.

Inq7.net was the first major, and adequately funded, business enterprise aimed at creating the country’s biggest, multi-media news website. Even in those early “days” in 2000, a number of US tech firms had approached us claiming that they could increase our traffic significantly — if we bought their atrociously priced technology and software for doing so. I rejected the offers, as I thought it was better for Inq7 to focus on content and not on artificial technology-based tricks. And after all, I didn’t think the newspapers’ owners would be interested or could afford such huge “soft” investments.

A post at Uson’s blog to protest the petition to Facebook to close her down.

A post at Uson’s blog to protest the petition to Facebook to close her down.

Our business model was that inq7.net would increase its traffic if the newspapers’ reporters and columnists continued doing good journalism, if the website delivered real-time news (which the print edition couldn’t), and if GMA7 provided the news and entertainment video clips which would surely attract page-views. GMA-7 though turned out to be planning to set up its own website. Our model, though, was proven correct: the websites of GMA-7 and ABS-CBN are the two biggest websites in the country because of their video content.

Rappler owes its phenomenal growth to its two tech executives, its chairman Manny Ayala (no relation to the Spanish magnates, but which triggered rumors still circulating that they are bank-rolling the news site) and board of directors member Nix Nolledo, both of whom I was told are minority shareholders.

Ayala has had a 12-year experience in entertainment media enterprises, and had been well plugged into the US website industry, whose continuing preoccupation is how to increase a website’s traffic. Nolledo is the local internet industry’s rock star, now a billionaire after his Xurpas recently raised P1.3 billion in capital through the stock market. Nolledo has been an expert in expanding a website’s traffic. His breakthrough was his pinoyexchange.com, which in just a month after it was launched, Nolledo boasted, accumulated 20,000 registered users.

Rappler is Philippine journalism’s “Brave New World,” in the fearful way Aldous Huxley used those words from Shakespeare as his novel’s title. Just as in Huxley’s dystopia, technology and the state had taken over the human spirit. Rappler’s technology and social-media tricks have replaced journalistic excellence and professionalism.

In the past, newspapers grew mainly because they provided citizens with accurate news, opinion columns that helped them understand events, and with investigative pieces that broke new ground. Rappler has demonstrated that in this brave new cyber world, a news outfit doesn’t need to do so for its growth, and can rely on technology and social-media tricks.

Mocha’s blog though has become Ressa’s nightmare: That a blog with little money and practically no staff could overtake such a huge web enterprise as her Rappler. What if some big businessman bankrolls the website Mocha Uson Blog, as big businessmen finance Rappler?

Chief Justice Corona
I wouldn’t have written a word about Rappler, if it simply reported objective news. But it has been spewing out biased reportages and opinion pieces, and the website’s reach has had an impact on Filipinos’ minds, especially those of the youth who prefer this medium.

For instance, its dozens of articles reporting against Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial, led by one of its main editors, were so biased as to be immoral. Indeed, a thesis by three UP mass communications students concluded that Rappler’s news content was no different from that of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which had also been rabidly anti-Corona, anti-Binay, and pro-Aquino.

Antonio Contreras, a La Salle professor with a Ph.D., and a hundred times more active in and knowledgeable about social media than I am, recently described Rappler in a recent column as “the mouthpiece of anti-Duterte rants masquerading as thought pieces… at the forefront of a crusade demonizing anyone who dared to fight the Aquino dynasty and its extension, the Liberal Party, from Renato Corona, to Jojo Binay to Bongbong Marcos, exposing all their dirt, whipping up hatred against them.”

One of Rappler’s  biggest failing is this. Its medium depends on the telecommunications industry, which obviously it should be very much concerned about. Yet in its four years of existence is hasn’t posted a single news article or opinion piece pointing out the inefficiencies of our telephone companies, foreigners’ dominance of it, and the corruption in this sector. It has even often run to the defense of the duopoly when it had been criticized. It was vicious in its criticism of the attempt of the San Miguel-Telstra joint venture to enter the industry.

That makes me suspect that one of its hidden owners or at least financiers could be the owners the two telcos.

Its section for opinion pieces, pretentiously labeled “Thought Leaders” have been dominated by a has-been editor in the late ‘70s who writes nothing but anti-Duterte pieces, by leaders of the pink Akbayan Party (such as Walden Bello and Risa Hontiveros), and by a communist party cadre of the likes of Teddy Casino.

I bet they’ll be surprised that the outfit that’s posting their rantings are owned by foreigners and one of the country’s biggest, yet low-key magnate, who will be laughing on their way to the banks when the site starts making money. That, in succeeding parts of this series.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Tweet: @bobitiglao

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64 Comments

  1. CRappler is pure crap. Halatang-halata ang biased opinions and articles ng CRappler. I stopped visiting the site after their malicious accusations kay Corona, Binay, Bong-bong at lalo na sa INC. CRappler will also reap the whirlwind.

  2. Lakas natin maka-support kay Mocha at kay Duterte ha.

    Given the similarity of circumstances, would you say that Marcos may not have been entirely at fault during his dictator years?
    Seriously?
    Objectively?

    Can WE HONESTLY say, that just like Duterte, Marcos Definitely has misgivings then, BUT he is not the entirely a DEMON, EVERYONE was trying to depict him to be?

  3. Marc Alcantara on

    dba she left abs cbn? Ressa herself was grilled at a Senate hearing for the coverage and for a purported conflict of interest as a part-time contributor for CNN, her former employer with which ABS-CBN News has a video-sharing agreement. However, her statement released Monday night did not explain the reasons for her resignation.
    – “abs cbn” okay there you go lol.

  4. I used to like reading rappler when it first started. i thought they were reporting facts about the country and since I live abroad literally all of my life, i thought it was great reading their local news. But it soon turned into disgust, especially during the campaign period. they were spewing a lot of biased articles and badly written news. even i who don’t live in the philippines could tell their news were pretty misleading. I am not reading it anymore. waste of time.

    • I totally agree with you and I stopped following cRappler even before the 2016 election campaign begun.
      cRappler was great with feel-good news until they delved too much into politics. Their bias exposed the sorority blog’s true colors.

  5. Ressa’s job security is at stake so that’s the reason for the attack otherwise it’s Rappler’s days that is numbered.

  6. I only checked Rappler once to see the Mining Engineer board results. never again did I hear nor used its website and now I’m feeling guilty for it… I feel like a caveman lol…

  7. Be careful Mr Tiglao. KAYO naman ang titirahin ng Rappler and Maria Ressa. She will call you a pro Duterte Bot

    • Cielo Villalobos on

      hahahaha so true, one of these days, ressa will write an article about mr tiglao and attack him. lol the yellowidiotriessa

  8. Thank you to the writer, the more I read your column the more it become interesting until the last paragraph. Now I am enlighten on what is going on. More power Mr. Tiglao

  9. Daniel B. Laurente on

    May karibal… Simply sa reporting nya sa blog kaya maraming tagasubaybay at nalampasan ang akalang sila ay nagwagi.Tandaan natin na walang bagay walang hanggang lagi ay may katapusan lalo na kung itoy nakakalason sa isipan ng tagasubaybay. I like MOCHA USON style.

  10. GeorgeMensahero on

    Ressa, just like Trillanes, are Pnoyt and HereNo/Co1co familypaid media propagandists & protectors. Ask them about Hacienda Luisita.

  11. Dolly Modo Ridings on

    You nailed it Mr.Tiglao love this blogs so real…. Mocha is just real that’s why the masses shift to Mocha from Rappler bias…

  12. Wilhelm A Bayona on

    The points raised by Mr. Tiglao has shown a prevailing problem with Media – biased reporting, always looking for the headliner as opposed to objectivity. Point in fact – When the PNP were giving out masks for Halloween, instead of focusing on the intention of the masks, which was used as a marketing tool to promote tips on crime prevention, they instead went to the more colorful “Obama as a Halloween mask” issue which was not the point of the exercise. Even the way the photograph was taken was to make sure that the public would be in outrage because his face was lined up with killers and horror figures. But the masks were there only as a marketing gimmick because flyers don’t work. I even posted online sales of political masks and my friends reacted negatively, stating that it was not the same thing. Go figure.

  13. This article is music to my ears.. or rather an eye candy. Punto por punto naidiin ni Mr. Tiglao and kabulukan ng rappler. Im not Mocha’s die hard fan pero i would rather look at her posts than that of rappler’s. Its obvious that mocha is rooting for our president but atleast its on the table already unlike rappler who is like a wolf on a sheep’s skin.

  14. Hypocrites to the highest level (read: the Yellows) cry for press freedom every time they are hit on their biased and misleading news but when someone beats them up and shoved them to the rug because Mocha is not their so-called equals, they will do cyber bullying and call it their rights to restore voice as they were rubbed and own the internet space. Double standard is their game and greed and apathy feeds their cry for freedom and democracy. We should unite and crush them more. If I may borrow their catchphrase against Marcos: #NEVERAGAIN! Never again to the Yellows!

  15. BOYCOTT RAPPLER !!!! UNFOLLOW RAPPLER!!!! NONSENSE BIAS AND PAID ONLINE MEDIA! MOCHA LANG PALA PANTAPAT SA INYO KAYA KAYO NAGKUKUMAHOG

  16. Confirmed!!! Rappler, ABS CBN and Inquirer are back and really blind followers of the yellow dorks! Very obvious moves of these paid and bias yellow media. Eversince CJ corona, Binay, Pdaf senators, Du30 they all move the same. Reesa has no credibility and honor, she is a puppet

  17. Bobbi Tiglao, maraming salamat! Ala ka talagang patawad, ano? Ngunit dapat lang! Of the two? Mocha is real. Ressa is plastique! Mocha is olala c’est magnifique! Ressa, pas beau! La beauté est au cœur.

  18. I could sum all of ressa’s whinning to this:
    Sheyt! My freakin ego is hurting. Some low-life biatch just run over my life long achievements and credentials! Im the professional and way more educated. And she — is just a nobody!!!

    Mocha then flip her hair, and says “ganda, malasakit at puso lang yan teh. Wala ka nun.”

    Case closed.?

  19. I unfollowed Rappler several months ago when they block my comment calling out their bias. I tried writing positive comment to support their bias, and voila, it was immediately posted. After that incident, I no longer read anything from their site or from their writers. I will respect others opinion as long as they will respect mine also, but I don’t tolerate slanted news to forward self-serving agenda

  20. Ronald Ordonez on

    sa dami nilang ojt sa opisina nila sigurado akong may mga Rappler Army sila naka ready..tapos madalas pang gusto nila ex-deal sa mga request nilang technology…then they act as if we are stupid readers..d lang kayo ang may utak rappler..

  21. Mr TIGLAO has spoken… and you just SLAP ms Ressa in her face using Mocha Usons Hair!!! ???
    But to be truthful is everything… theres more garbage on Rapplers and it thrives on lies and negative opinions. Ms ressa is educated but speak more like a ” mga tsismosas sa squatters!!!
    A very classic case of ” inutusan lang sa kanto para bumili ng suka , pagbalik Journalist na??!!
    Thank you sir Tiglao for noticing this…

  22. :. . . Rappler, funded by a big foreign and local businessman?” ha, ha, ha !!! Pres. Duterte’s second kind of media, MOUTHPIECES of elements to serve their own interest. Maria Rappler, kaya kumonti ang audience mo at lumaki ang kay Mocha ay very obvious…..makadilaw ka. di nga nanalo ang dilaw, di ba?! di mo iyon gets? at dahil malawak ang abot ng presidente natin, natural lang na dadami ang mocha readers. mas relevant ang binabasa nila. so, maria rappler, kung gusto mong bumalik ang dati mong luster, magsulat ka ng KATOTOHANAN. this will make you a patriotic citizen of our country. pero di mo gagawin. mawawalan ka ng financier. maria, si rizal ay kung saan saan nakarating, humanga sa government and culture ng foreign countries. pero labs pa rin niya ang Pinas. maria, Anak, read “Mi Ultimo Adios.” or its English translation. siyempre,

  23. the first time i step to rapplers doorstep, few months ago b4 election_posted on their page was an anti-du30 post..i knew it then that this page im into? is a page war of words between yelo vs dds, i hvnt fnish reading that article yet i straight away unlike the page..that rappler page is unhealthy to me so better get off or il b one thr clicking triggers vs my kbbayans

  24. about time somebody told the truth about ressa and her site. I also have to add that they use pictures without permission and even removing the copyright marks! they are that cheap and immoral. in that regard, they are thieves.

  25. I stopped reading rappler and inquirer a couple of months ago when their biased articles was having a negative impact on me. It was stressful reading. I want positivity because it affects my psyche. With their kind of news, one would be angry all day long. They are seriously bad for my health.

    • Same here. I’m based overseas, at isinama ko na rin ang pag terminate ng The Filipino Channel subscription ko…

    • Dick S. O'Rosary on

      Their stupid website even has a section that surveys how an article makes them “feel.” Grabe that website lately has been full of articles that make people feel “angry.” I’m not going there anymore, I just get angry for all the wrong reasons.

  26. amelita antonio celemen on

    Perfect read. Showed me that this time of day, the weak becomes strong, and the strong becomes weak and wicked. Genuine talks and reads are for those who are intellectual and concerned.Above all, let’s give our president Rody Duterte a chance!!!

  27. Another great intellectual read. I unfollowed and stop reading Rappler mid 2015… trash and one sided writings of the biased reporters and writers. Used to follow Ressas writing. No more. She isn’t credible anymore.

  28. That is why people are shying away from mainstream media. All that stinky bleeding yellows of old(really, it stinks like pus…..ew!) Mr Rigo Tiglao and Jojo Robles are still my favorites and so does Benign0, Ilda and Marcus of Get Real Philippines…Mabuhay po kayong lahat.

  29. Jovelio galaraga on

    Again many thanks Mr Tiglao for another delightful hard-facts read – you’r my first columnist every MWF. I only read Rappler when I run out of fiction & on those rare occasions I can agree with your judgment of its writers. For the sake of concerned citizens like us, do continue to:

    Write write write
    To the bottom
    of the night/
    With your unconstraining pen
    Persuade us again and again/
    To break free from the prison of our days
    That we may break forth in limitless praise! ( apologies to W. H. Auden )

  30. yes…..TUMPAK….Mr. Tiglao, this Rapshit Ressa is a cabal…an attack dog of the Yellow bleeding hearts.All she does is to attack the Panot nemesis especially Bongbong Marcos, who won convincingly over the fake and PCOS installed ROBredo.If really LENI LUGAW won as VP fair and square, how come she is the most despised and unnoticed VP elected ever in the country.Why not her purported millions of her loyal supporters are not widely seen defending her in the public as well as in Social Media? Come on Rapshit Ressa, you are already exposed, a paid hack of the yellow media.

  31. I would interpret this article in simple words.. Rappler’s downfall is near. One of the major reasons: content. I have unfollowed Rappler long before the election. Mainly due to content – I found it quite a tabloid type, recycling news, repeating and reposting news, trying to sensationalize some nees, xavier xerex type news, just pure waste of time. I can read their content from other news website so why subscribe or follow? About Mocha’s page, I can get scoop from the president. She has exclusive interviews, she reports those media does not with proof of video. Again, major reason why I sibscribed to Mocha Uson Blog is content. Sorry Rappler, you may end up like Friendster. It is time to evolve.

  32. One of the 7 deadly sins is ENVY !!!

    Kasalanan ba ni Mocha kung ang “mocha” niya ay subra sa ganda kaysa kay Maria ?
    He he he he he !

  33. Maria Ressa, Filipinos know that you are a tool of foreigners who supported noynoy aquino despite of his incompetency, failures and failures after one another. And you are also a tool of the American interference in the Philippines internal affairs.

    • haha… easy answer – I mean you look at Ressa – would you look and stare at her while reporting – maybe some people are blinded by the news – that you have no choice but to watch Ressa. So, unbearably unappealing – just dont want to say she is pang*t.