Glenda Gloria at PostGlobal

Glenda Gloria

Manila, Philippines

Glenda Gloria is the managing editor of Newsbreak, the Philippines’s leading news and current affairs online magazine. A journalist for two decades now, she writes about security issues, governance, elections, the media, and Southeast Asia. She began her journalism career as a reporter for the Philippine Daily Inquirer in January 1986, a month before the edsa people power revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship. Three years later, she joined The Manila Times where she was assigned to cover the Philippine military, an institution that she has studied extensively. She left the Manila Times in 1992 to join the Manila bureau of Asahi Shimbun. In 1995, Ms. Gloria wrote about Makati and its mayor in Boss: 5 Cases of Local Politics in the Philippines, published by the PCIJ and the Institute for Popular Democracy. The book won the National Book Award. In 2000, together with Marites Dañguilan Vitug, she authored Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao, a groundbreaking book on the Muslim rebel movements in Mindanao that won the National Book Award. In 2003, Ms. Gloria published a pamphlet on the phenomenon of appointing military officers to the Philippine bureaucracy (We Were Soldiers). Previously, she co-authored the book, Kudeta: Challenge to Philippine Democracy, published by the PCIJ. Last year, she wrote a book assessing the impact of political advertising on the presidential and senatorial elections that were held in May 2004. ative reporting in 2004. Born on July 23, 1965 in Laoag City, Philippines, Ms. Gloria earned her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila (1985). She holds a masters degree in political sociology, with distinction, from the London School of Economics and Political Science (1999). She has a two-year-old daughter. At present, she is also a lecturer on Media and Politics and Investigative Reporting at the KAF Asian Center for Journalism of the Ateneo de Manila University. Close.

Glenda Gloria

Manila, Philippines

Glenda Gloria is the managing editor of Newsbreak, the Philippines’s leading news and current affairs online magazine. A journalist for two decades now, she writes about security issues, governance, elections, the media, and Southeast Asia. more »

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Traffic and the Pretty Young Things

They're everywhere on Manila's major thoroughfares -- scantily clad girls on giant billboards. They are horrible traffic nuisances, assuming, of course, that you're a serious commuter just aiming for your destination.

The typical Filipino commuter, however, loves entertainment, even behind wheels. And what better way to have fun in the smoldering sun than to be treated with a daily parade of pretty young things on the road? Giant billboards showing shapely legs occupy so much space they distaort the landscape. But this country of about 80 million Catholics doesn't seem to mind.

That is unless the advert hits below the belt. On the capital's major highway -- that 21 years ago was the site of a people power revolution that toppled a dictatorship -- a local brandy company concocted a real grabber ad on it. The local brandy's billboard bore the follwing text: "Nakatikim ka na ba ng kinse anyos?" Translated: "Have you ever tasted a 15-year-old?"

The brandy producer maintains they meant that the brandy has been distilled for 15 years. But consumer and Catholic groups rose up in arms; the billboard had to be torn down.

Are Filipino girls overly sexualized? It's a cliché to blame the media for it, but who else is there to blame? The most viewed TV noontime shows are those packed by young girls in sexy shorts gyrating before Filipino audiences. One popular dance group is called "Sex Bomb," another is known "Viva Hot Babes," and still another is "G Girls," the G referring to "giling," a local lingo that means to gyrate.

On Christmas, when children visit their godparents' homes as is customary, they sing to the most popular sexy tunes and -- God help us -- sensually swing their hips in front of the old folks, who cheer them on to no end. The sight used to shock me, but my country has indeed come a long way from Jose Rizal's conception of Maria Clara, the conservative, demure Filipina who figured in the hero's novels.

Hundreds of years as a Spanish and American colony made us accommodating of outside influences. We love everything American, including the Americans' fair skin. The fastest-moving products in the groceries today are everything related to skin whitening: soap, lotion, and face moisturizer. Even a senator once endorsed a skin whitening soap in a TV commercial swearing to viewers that he uses it.

When you're fair, you're in. When you look tanned, ah, you must have spent time on the beach with a foreigner boyfriend, who usually prefers the "brown Filipinas." Movie stars get to show off their tan during the summer, but don't be misled. For most of the year, they rub sun block on their skin all day.

And with girls having access to almost everything on the Internet, how could anyone stop their exposure to the superficial and the whimsical?

Well, there's one that could possibly reduce the flesh flood, though. Bring down those billboards. It's good for the environment, and even better for one's safety on the road.

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