Media Coverage

My Sweet Boracay Reflection
by Brian Shane Gorrell
August 2009

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Tales From A Former Boracay Boy
by Brian Shane Gorrell
Issue No. 5

Multiculturism or Racism?
by Brian Shane Gorrell
Issue No. 6

The Blog Of Doom
by Chi Chi, The Party Girl
April 2008

Naming Names: Online 'Telenovela' Indicts RP 'High' Society
by the Inquirer Entertainment Staff
11 March 2008

Brian Blogspot, The Movie
by the Inquirer Entertainment Staff
13 March 2008

Brian Blogspot: The Plot Thickens
by the Inquirer Entertainment Staff
16 March 2008

And Now, A Word From A 'Jologs'
by Gibbs Cadiz
16 March 2008

Blog's Shame Campaign Raises Legal Issues
16 March 2008

Attack Of The Killer Blog
by Zhou Zhiyal
16 March 2008

Brian Steps Out Of His Blog
by the Inquirer Entertainment Staff
17 March 2008

Move Over, Mr. Ripley
by Bayani San Diego Jr.
18 March 2008

Broadcast Vets Discus Change, Power of Blogs
by Bayani San Diego Jr.
19 March 2008

Brian Picks Blog Film Stars - Just In Case
by the Inquirer Entertainment Staff
23 March 2008

Reality TV, Virtual Reality
by Bayani San Diego Jr.
27 March 2008

Aussie Blogger Crosses Over To TV
by Bayani San Diego Jr.
02 April 2008

Aussie Blogger Skewering RP Socialites Now On Radio
by Bayani San Diego Jr.
07 April 2008

Blogger Now A Radio Host
by Bayani San Diego Jr.
08 April 2008

DJ Montano Strikes Back At Aussie Blogger
by Juliet Labog-Javellana
12 April 2008

Blogger Brian, Ex-Lover DJ: A Case Of He Said/He Said
by Juliet Labog-Javellana and Bayani San Diego Jr.
13 April 2008

Feedback: Bugged by Aussie Blogger
by Manuel Felix Abejo Jr.
13 April 2008

Blog Addicts: Notes From iBlog4
by Alex Villafania
02 May 2008

Favorite '08 Interviews
by the Inquirer Entertainment Staff
31 December 2008

Red Faces And Lurid Accusations
by Bong Austero
17 March 2008

Eight In '08 (MST Life's People Of The Year)
by Ed Biado
30 December 2008

Online Libel: Aussie Blogger's Victims Are Helpless
by Carmela Fonbuena
28 March 2008
Early this month, Australian Brian Gorrell, 40, signed up for a free blog account. His blog—on stories about love, money, betrayal, violence, and crimes of the young party-going segment of Philippine society’s rich and famous—has since gripped hundreds of thousands, growing into an Internet sensation.

It has also become a case study for online libel laws as those who feel they have been defamed try to seek legal redress.

Readers in China , Canada , Australia , Philippines —especially in the Philippines —and other parts of the globe have been checking out Gorrel’s blog religiously. In a single day, he draws an online traffic of over 50,000. That is very high for a personal blog.

Other bloggers and even foreign media organizations including various Philippine media groups have also picked up his story.

Why the fuss over this blog?

His blog—a personal account of his experiences with a Filipino ex-lover—has all the elements of controversy. In the process, he tells all about the sons and daughters of wealthy families with whom he hang out when he was in the Philippines. Once or twice, familiar big political surnames are dropped, too.

He writes about a model allegedly cheating on her influential husband, a popular events organizer allegedly selling drugs in his parties, personalities who are supposedly drug addicts, and other ugly details about his former friends.


But Gorrell says that the purpose of the blog is not to shame all his former friends. It is the means to an end, which is to get back the money that his former lover allegedly stole from him. It amounts to US$70,000—his lifetime savings he says—which he invested in a joint restaurant business with the former lover. The restaurant turned out to be non-existent, so his account goes.

Gorrell writes that they had a violent fight after he began asking the former lover about his investment. One thing led to another and Gorrell had to fly back to Australia.

And then the blog was born.

In every post, Gorrel always begs for the ex-lover to pay him back. “Pay me back, [name of Filipino lover] PLEASE. I’m begging you to end this for me. I need the money. My medication is not cheap. My HIV is not going anyway anytime soon,” he said in one post.

Comments on Gorrell’s posts show that a majority of his readers believe his account. That he is HIV positive also generated a lot of sympathy for the Australian.

Lawyers’ concerns

Unknown perhaps to Gorrell, his blog has also stirred up the “interest” of some Filipino lawyers who are not in any way related to his characters. Lawyer Edwin Lacierda, an expert on Constitutional law teaching at the Far Eastern University and De La Salle University, is among the unexpected visitors of Gorrell’s blog.

More than the scandals, it is the legal implications of the blog that Lacierda finds interesting. Even University of the Philippines College of Law lawyer Theodore Te finds the unfolding Internet scandal “exciting” for the legal community. He first read about Gorrell in the newspapers.

Gorrell is right when he said, “it has become bigger than me,” referring to the blog. Although not the first of its kind, Gorrell’s blog intensified discussions on how, if at all, the Internet should be controlled.

When Gorrell posted his stories on the Internet, they began to have lives of their own. At one point Gorrell decided to shut down the blog. But after receiving 3,000 emails all over the world asking him to revive it, he did.

There’s little he can do to moderate the comments, too. Gorrell himself, creator of the blog, lost control over it.


Based on his scan on the blog, Lacierda finds “cause of action” for Gorrell, citing several image copies of his bank documents.

On the other hand, Lacierda also finds Gorrell’s statements “libelous.” “They are malicious,” he said.

This is the reason is not divulging the identities of the Filipino characters—most of whom are not public figures.

UP Law professor JJ Disini agreed with Lacierda’s assessment of the blog. “I think that the statements are libelous,” he told ANC’s Media in Focus on March 27. He explained that while some of the characters in Gorrell’s blog are famous, the libelous statements have nothing to do with what they are famous for.

Aside from libel, Disini said that Gorrell may also be charged with blackmail. “Blackmail may be a crime where he is from.”

The other characters who have been dragged were treated unfairly by Gorrell, Disini said. Gorrell also wrote uncompromising details about the former lover’s friends in an attempt to get them to pressure the former lover to pay him back.

“In a very basic level, that’s unfair,” Disini said. “[They are] being used as pawns to get the money back.”

Settle in court

Gorrell and the Filipino characters in the blog have several legal options if they intend to bring the matter to the courts. The easiest way is for Gorrell to come back to the Philippines, the lawyers said.

Gorrell can file criminal charges against the former lover. After all, the alleged crime of the Filipino ex-lover was committed here. The former lover can also file libel charges against Gorrell for his allegations.

What makes the situation “interesting” is the fact that Gorrell is not inclined to go back to the Philippines or file charges against the former lover. “No way,” he said in one post. “I have absolutely no intention of spending the next three years of my life battling a liar or thief in your court system in Manila. I have experienced enough of the corrupt process you call law in the Philippines . I’m done. You will never get me into a courthouse in your country. Ever.”

It is clear in Gorrell’s blog that he wants to settle the matter out of the courts. And until the former lover pays him up, the blog and the ugly revelations will continue, so he says in the blog.

Maligned Filipinos want blog stopped

Naturally, it is the Filipinos maligned in the blog that are resorting to legal options to stop Gorrell’s blog. The Filipinos’ lawyers have gotten in touch with Gorrell to convince him to bring the matter to the courts, but to no avail. Gorrell published the entirety of the lawyers’ letter in his blog, too.

One of the subjects has called on the Philippine government to cooperate with the Australian police. Gorrell received a visit from representatives of the Philippine Consulate in Australia who was accompanied by Australian police, but that didn’t stop Gorrell from blogging. According to Gorrell, he was not charged with any crime after the visit from the police.


“It’s technically a stalemate,” UP’s Te said of the situation. Although there are other legal actions that the Filipino characters may take, they are both “tedious” and “very expensive.”

The Filipino characters may file a civil case against Gorrell in the Philippines even if Gorrell is in Australia . Although lawyers said this option hardly makes any point because Gorrell has no properties in the Philippines .

Another option is: they may try to get Gorrell extradited to the Philippines to face the criminal case. However, the Australian government will surely protect its citizen, Te said. Libel may be filed as criminal case, civil case, or both.

Still another option is to file the case in Australia . The problem with this option, aside from being very expensive, is that the Filipino characters will lose home court advantage. Unfamiliarity with Australian law is clearly a setback, too.

That laws for the Internet remain to be clarified doesn’t make it any easier. In the Philippines , Internet bills are still pending in Congress. “The definition of libel may be different in Australia ,” said Te.

Dangerous precedent

Former Bb. Pilippinas Ana Theresa Licaros understands the difficulty of dealing with online libel. After she won the pageant last year, several hardcore pageant fans who were not fond of her began posting critical statements about her in online forums.

Although she recognizes that as a beauty titlist, she has become a public figure, “sadly, some of the posts are bordering on defamation,” she said.

“I found it really bothersome the way they posted my photos and compared these with other beauty pageant winners. Among the less vulgar comments they would say about her was ‘mukhang barangay tanod.’ I was knocked off for being the smart girl. They say that it’s not a quiz bee.”

Aside from currently taking up law in the University of the Philippines , Licaros also finished a broadcasting degree in the same university and graduated summa cum laude.

Licaros consulted Te, who was her professor. Licaros considered filing libel charges against her critics. She went to the extent of tracking the IP addresses of the anonymous persons critical of her. She found out that they usually use just one IP address, which means that her critics may be using an Internet connection at home or in a regular internet café.

Licaros could have asked the help of the authorities to help her track the IP address, until she decided to reconsider filing a case. “Even if I was personally hurt, I decided not to pursue a case. Although I was really tempted,” she said.

Knowing that the laws on cyberspace are still being defined, the lawyer and the media student in her feared that the “result might extend to other areas of speech that I don’t want to be curtailed.”

* * *

The Brian Gorrell Case: Blogging As A Tool To Get 'Justice'
by Gigi Grande
04 April 2008
The home of Brian Gorrell sits in the middle of a rain forest, several hundred kilometers from Sydney. Roads are narrow, sometimes bumpy. But once inside the property, the views are breathtaking. His three-bedroom home overlooks a pool and 30 acres of land.

It’s Sunday afternoon and Gorrell is lounging by the pool with a couple of friends. Cold drinks in hand, he wears a big smile, laughs a lot and appears worry-free. It’s an image not usually associated with the Australian blogger. His mood shifts down a notch when he explains why he’s inevitably moving out of this property.

"I owned part of this property for 5 years. But when I decided to move to the Philippines, I sold my share to the other owner for one hundred thousand dollars. I turn over the keys to the new owners in June," says Gorrell.

What happened to the money from the sale of the property is the subject of Gorrell’s blog that’s captivated readers from all over the world since it was created four weeks ago.


Gorrell’s popular blog centers on his Filipino ex-boyfriend, a society columnist and prominent figure of Manila’s party-set who allegedly swindled him of seventy thousand dollars.

He says he was made to believe the money was going towards opening a restaurant in Makati and a tour booking company. It was too late when he found out there was no restaurant.

"I know how I found myself in this predicament. Because I fell in love. But I shouldn’t be punished for falling in love," he says.

Gorrell met his now-notorious ex-boyfriend when he traveled to Manila on holiday in 2006. He was a guest at the Manila Peninsula, his soon-to-be lover was there for a photo shoot.

"He lays it on thick. He sure knows how to tell you what you want to hear," recalls Gorrell.

Days later, the two ran into each other in Boracay. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Gorrell, a businessman who owned a flower shop in Sydney and a farm where he grew flowers and exotic bamboo, lost no time selling his share of the business to his partner.

By mid-2007 he had relocated to Boracay. He says his decision to move was not entirely because of his new boyfriend. "I fell in love with the Philippines. Its not difficult to do. People are beautiful."

Starts a blog

Months later, he was back in Australia, alone and with hardly a dollar to his name. "I want to get my money back. I went to start a blog because nothing else has worked and that’s basically how my blog came to be."

His blog has since become somewhat of an internet sensation. If readers keep coming back to Gorrell’s blog, its because it reads like a tele-novela.

Here he also makes allegations of drug use, philandering, and freeloading against his ex-boyfriend’s friends, which include media personalities and scions of wealthy families. "I know the information first hand. Being at the parties. Seeing these people do what I’ve accused them of doing. I’ve been there. I’ve been in the middle of it. I’ve been in the middle of the muck."

Gorrell explains why he’s pouring all his energy into this cyberspace fight. "I’m 38 years old, I’ve had HIV for 8 years, it’s not going away. You have to take many pills. Every day. But it’s not only the medication that costs a lot of money. Your diet has to change, you make many trips to the hospital. This blog is my last attempt to stay alive with dignity, with self esteem, a sense of purpose in life. All these are, unfortunately for me, connected to that money."

Surprisingly, Gorrell has not lost his sense of humor in spite of his ordeal. Referring to the entries in his blog, he says, "I’m not into spell check, everyone knows that,"

Blogging trends

Blogging has emerged as a powerful source of information in recent years because of its potential to reach millions of people with internet access. Its credibility as a source may sometimes be put to question, but there’s no doubt it’s proven its influence in politics and business. In the entertainment industry, it can make or break a celebrity.

Gorrell says he’s using his blog to get justice. "Justice is having my money back."

It’s too early to tell if he’ll succeed. But if he does, his blog will be yet another testimony to the power of blogging.

According to web tracking tool "Site Meter", Gorrell’s blog has had a total of almost two million page views since it was created on March 4. Traffic is predicted to hit over three million page views in the next month.

The numbers are impressive for a personal blog. So impressive it has attracted the attention of Google.

"Google approached me and said, ‘we noticed you have a high amount of traffic in your website and we’ve also explored its content’. It just made sense to put ads on my blog. It’s no skin off my back to have the ads," he says. "I’ve had to pay my lawyers 1,800 dollars so far with this issue so if those ads can generate a bit of money, I’m quite happy."

Canada on his mind

Gorrel spends about five hours a day responding to e-mail and writing entries for his blog. The rest of the day, he tends to the farm. He’s preparing it for the new owners who arrive in three months. "I am not earning an income. The work I do is therapy more than anything. It takes my mind off the fact that I am actually truly broke. I do plan on working when I move to Canada."

In a few months, Gorrell intends to return to his native Canada. But he says the blog is not shutting down until he gets his money back.

More scandals

The blog is far from losing steam. Gorrell has told readers he’s preparing to post damaging information involving the recent death of a socialite who was heir to a multi- million peso retail empire. "Murder is going to appear in my blog soon. Well I’m not going to use the word murder. But people are not being told the truth. And I’m having a hard time with that."

Gorrell says he’s willing to cooperate with Philippine authorities for as long as they question him in Australia. "I’ve heard it first hand from one of the people involved so when I come out in my blog and suggest what I’ve been told, it’s tricky. I don’t have this conversation taped. I don’t have it on video. But I have it here. (Gorrell points to his head) I know the truth. And it’s a hard one."

Clearly, Gorrell has no intention of backing off. He’s all fired up. He’s organizing documents to support his allegations. He’s networking with Filipinos around the world who support his cause.

But just for today, he’s enjoying the warm weather and a dip in the pool. Even creators of sensational blogs need a day off.

* * *

Filipino 'Blog Victim' To File Charges vs. Blogger Brian Gorrell
by Korina Sanchez
12 April 2008
Controversial socialite, writer and photographer DJ Montano, with his family, approached ABS-CBN and asked for their chance to react to accusations against them posted on a popular blog by his former friend, Australian Brian Gorrell.

The Gorrell blog, entitled "The Talented Mr. Montano", is a series of accusations against Montano as having taken A$70,000 for an alleged fictitious restaurant venture.

The blog has since attracted a phenomenal two million hits since it opened, with Gorrell committing to close the site once his money is returned.

"I sent this money in good faith. I sent this money for my future, for my business that we were creating together. This was money that I need back so that I can move on with my life," said Gorrell in a previous interview with ABS-CBN Australian News Bureau.

Montano, however, denied that he received such amount from Gorrell.

"Not at all, not at all," Montano said, when asked if Gorrell sent him 70,000 dollars.

Mo Twister, a radio co-anchor in a weekly program that Gorrell has started to do, joined in asking the questions.

"So, the whole opening a restaurant, all of that is completely false?" asked Mo Twister.

"I have no business plans with him, whatsoever," Montano said.

Montano also denied accusations of cocaine addiction.

"I am not a cocaine addict," he said.

Gorrell's questions

Gorrell was offered a chance to listen in on the show through the telephone and respond, but he declined.

Gorrell emphasized he had kept trying to get in touch with Montano for months, but to no avail.

Gorrell instead requested a few questions be posed to Montano like, "Ask him where my live savings are? How he spent it?"

To which Montano replied: "First and foremost, I didn't have any money to spend from him. He was given every bit of it."

Another question Gorrel posed was, "Ask him why he cheated on me? Ask him why he is such a filthy little thief?

"I maybe many things. I have certainly had my share of my mistakes. I’m far from being a saint. One thing I’m not, I am not a thief, " Montano said.

It's a matter of principle

Members of the Montano family were also mentioned in the Gorrell blog and they gave their own reactions.

"What is 70,000 Australian dollars? It is so easy for us to pay but my son doesn't owe him money. It is a matter of principle" said Montano’s mother, Aurora.

"This is some sort of a blackmail. I think when he was able to live here, he lived a very, very comfortable life. He lived like a king. And of course now, he's trying to make something out of this thing. I don't know, he's trying to make money " said Benjie Laurel, Montano’s stepfather.

Charges to be filed vs Gorrell

Montano's legal counsel revealed his clients are set to file charges of defamation and libel in the Philippines or in Australia against Gorrell.

According to their research, blogs have been closed down by Google, and there has been a case wherein United States courts awarded $11 million to someone defamed by a blogger.

Gorrell, on the other hand, said he is ready to face any lawyer and is unafraid because he is telling the truth.

Experts agree that much of the content in Gorrell's blog is libelous and even actionable. But whether a case filed will actually prosper remains to be seen.

After Montano's public appearance, he is also well advised to expect the blog public to react, and he runs the great risk of being exposed if he is lying.

"For Brian, I would like to challenge him to finally have the courage to face me. I have not been hiding. I have not left the country. I am not afraid of him. I will see him in court," Montano said.

* * *

Aussie Blogger Denies 'Living Like A King' In RP
by Trina Lagura
12 April 2008
A day after Filipino 'blog victim' DJ Montano's first public appearance on ANC's "Korina Today", the Australian blogger who allegedly maligned Montano wasted no time to belie his ex-partner’s allegations.

In his blog,, Brian Gorrell said he had decided to live in the Philippines "because I fell deeply in love with DJ and he was supposed to be deeply in love with me."

Montano said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer published Saturday that Gorrell loved Boracay and spent a lot of money in his stay in the Philippines.

Gorrell, however, wrote: "My farm in Australia is PARADISE. I did not have to go to Boracay for that. Trust me. I left Australia for the Philippines because DJ and I were in love. He e-mailed many times a day for six months. Usually about money."

Gorrell added that he had also wanted to take a year off from his farm to relax and learn yoga. Boracay, he said, was affordable to him.

Lived like a King?

The Australian also denied that he "lived like a king" in Boracay, pointing out that his life has always been very simple.

"I was born in a poor family and was raised lower to middle class. I am very proud of my native heritage. My grandmother is half native Canadian. We are very simple people. I do not apologize for that," he said.

Gorrell said it was Montano who allegedly owed almost a million pesos to resorts and restaurants as a result of an expensive lifestyle.

Montano’s parents also did not escape Gorrell’s rage.

Aside from accusing them of being "corrupt," he maintained that it was not their business "how I lived in Boracay or anywhere else for that matter."


"I am just shattered. I have just watched the entire interview and DJ's print interview. The whole thing is yet another scam from the Montano clan. Just devastated at the lies," he said.

Gorrell also dismissed as mere bluff Montano’s threat that he would file a case in Australia. He also lamented that he would never get back his money from Montano after the Filipino denied he owed Gorrell 70,000 Australian dollars.

The Australian also professed his love for the Philippines, and asssailed Montano for accusing him of being rude to Filipinos. He said no one loves the Philippines more than him, and he has nothing but love and respect for the Filipinos.

He said he would further rebut Montano’s claims in his media interviews.

* * *

Pinoy Bloggers Tackle Porn, Libel, Copyright Issues
by David Dizon
29 April 2008

Idol, Friendster Top Pinoy's Yahoo Search
by Miguel Camus
19 December 2008

Private Sydney: Aussie Blog Has Philippine 'Gucci Gang' All In A Lather
by Andrew Hornery
05 April 2008

Brian Gorrell: Shaking Up High Society
17 March 2008
The blog of Australian Brian Gorrell is one of the hottest to hit the Philippines ever. He says he only put up the blog in order to collect the $70,000 his former lover, a Filipino, owes him. But because of his exposes and revelations, he is shaking up Philippine high society. Read the blog.

* * *

Brian Gorrell And His (Sordid, Scorching, Sensational) Tale of Betrayal
by CC Hidalgo
19 March 2008
By his own admission, Brian Gorrell is fighting the fight of his life. Quite literally.

Afflicted with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Gorrell says he had saved up enough money over the years so that he could take care of himself. Then, in less than a year, all that money 'totaling 70,000 US dollars, or nearly three million pesos, he says' is gone. Stolen, according to him, by a dashing and sweet-talking Filipino he had fallen in love with and had a relationship that lasted a year.

The 38-year-old Gorrell, who was born in Canada but is an Australian citizen (he has lived in Australia for 25 years), swears he did everything rational and legal to try to get his money back. But, according to him, he was instead mocked and threatened. Furious and desperate, he created a blog on and spilled his guts out.

The blog was a sensation. Ever since he put it up earlier this month, the blog, according to, averages a daily visit of 52,391, which is a phenomenal statistic for a blog that is less than a month old.

It's easy to see why. The blog is addictive. Perhaps because it played into the gossipy nature of Filipinos, thousands are drawn to it every day. Or that, as can be gleaned from the equally scorching and at times hilarious comments, many Filipinos really do hate the so-called high-society - which Gorrell described as 'toxic,' its denizens suffering from a 'drug-induced boredom' — and that, for once, they had the opportunity to engage in a bit of schadenfreude. "The vicious schadenfreude on display in that blog is the spasm of the helpless," writes the Inquirer's Gibbs Cadiz.

But Gorrell's story - the nasty revelations, the profanity, the nihilism, the abuse, the betrayal, all of this aside - probably comes down to this: it is a story of a vulnerable man swept away by the exotic decadence of a part of Philippine society that only a few Filipinos probably knew existed. People may argue about the veracity of its content but there is no denying that Gorrell's blog pried open the door to this glitzy underworld that the likes of Maurice Arcache or Tim Yap wouldn't dare — to use a word society columnists will have no problem using — prattle about.

Gorrell agreed to an online chat with PinoyPress on Tuesday. We are printing excerpts of the conversation, which have been edited for clarity, grammar and style.

And because of some legal considerations, all the names, except Gorrell's, have been changed. We cannot even print the URL of his blog. Then again, in the age of Google, that should not be a problem.

PinoyPress: Anytime you’re ready, Brian.

Brian Gorrell: This is all very strange for me. I’m nervous.

PinoyPress: Don't be. I figured that you might be more comfortable with YM (Yahoo Messenger) than, say, a phone conversation.

Brian Gorrell: Yes, you are correct. Unless you are really CK. Hahahaha! I have been tricked a few times.

PinoyPress: I trust that you checked me out? Googled me at least?

Brian Gorrell: Nope. Too trusting. That's my problem, mate.

PinoyPress: Well, that’s a bit surprising. Nowadays, you can’t be too trusting.

Brian Gorrell: Blame my mum. She raised me that way. Haha!

* * *

Brian Gorrell Now Goes After Philippine Star
by CC Hidalgo
22 March 2008
Brian Gorrell, the Australian whose explosive blog about his “social-climbing” Filipino ex-lover is now a certified cause celebre, has launched a boycott campaign against The Philippine Star, the newspaper that carries the columns of at least two of the main (sordid) characters in his real-life telenovela.

Gorrell argues that, by not doing something about his complaints concerning the paper’s columnists/contributors (the paper has also so far refused to touch Gorrell’s story, unlike its main rival, the Inquirer), the Star is perpetuating the alleged injustice done to him. He calls the paper “the Philippine Rats” and alleges that these columnists do not even write their own columns. Ouch.

Apart from attracting a wide audience because of the gossipy nature of this blog (tip: read as well the comments section; you’ll be blown away, trust me), Gorrell’s case is increasingly becoming “legitimized” journalistically speaking because of his tack against the Star and because of the legal issues the blog has raised.

Now, media watchdogs such as the Philippine Journalism Review will have no choice but to tackle the possible ethical lapses allegedly committed by the Star’s people.

Is the Star going to heed Gorrell’s challenge and do some house-cleaning? Many doubt it. After all, what can anyone expect from a paper that took in Tim Yap, the so-called “eventologist” whose short gig in the Inquirer was marked by shameless self-promotion and who was fired from the paper allegedly because of his tendency to cross ethical lines much too often and much too flagrantly?

* * *

Brian Gorrell's Story Increasingly Penetrating Mainstream Press
by CC Hidalgo
02 April 2008

7 Things Brian Gorrell Can Do From Now On
by CC Hidalgo
03 April 2008

Why The Philippine Press Is Too Careful In Handling Brian Gorrell Case
by CC Hidalgo
07 April 2008

Brian Gorrell Brouhaha: 15 Questions Korina Sanchez Should have Asked DJ Montano
12 April 2008

Brian Gorrell Should Expect A Nasty Counter-Attack From DJ Montano's Camp
by CC Hidalgo
28 April 2008

A Challenge To Bambee Dela Paz And Other Bloggers
by Carlos H. Conde
03 January 2009

Celine Lopez In Gucci Gang Controversy
by Iloilo History
18 March 2008

The Gucci Gang
by Nereo Lujan
20 March 2008
IF IT WERE NOT for Celine Lopez, daughter of couple Albertito and Emily there would be less interest on the so-called Gucci Gang controversy among the Ilonggos. The combined news elements of proximity and prominence made Iloilo Internet users googling minute by minute to get the latest info about that familiar name and why she was dragged into this high-society spectacle.

To those offline, this controversy started when Australian landscape designer Brian Gorrell accused his ex-lover, Filipino lifestyle columnist DJ Montano, of swindling him out of US$70,000 that he had lent him, purportedly for the purpose of putting up a restaurant. He also accused Montano’s well-to-do friends who allegedly compose the Gucci Gang members (Celine one of them, according to Brian) of covering up the deed. Brian had since opened a blog for the purpose of collecting his money back.

Details and other sidelights of this controversy are all over the Internet, and there is no need to glorify it further. Besides, all that Brian wants is that his money be returned, and he will forget everything. And he seems firm on that. If he gets paid, he may just abandon his rebellion against the Gucci Gang, who in turn may now sleep well.

But whether this hullabaloo takes a halt after Brian is eventually paid, preempting more juicy revelations, or continues until he shall have told everything with convincing consistency, the so-called Gucci Gang will surely become a disgraced icon of opulence, as this controversy makes more evident the great divide between the rich and the poor in the Philippines.

Brian’s posts reveal how extravagant and lavish the lifestyle of the Filipino rich, allegedly basking on the temporal pleasure that cocaine, liquor and sex bring to them, while those in the very wide base (and it’s getting wider) of the social triangle had to shed not just sweat and tears but blood as well to put food on their table. The amount of money they spend every day on sin is more than enough to feed the poor in Sinikway, Lapuz here in Iloilo City for a week or two. It’s scandalous and obscene, especially in the Philippines where one of every three Filipinos lives in abject poverty.

Government statistics reveal that 32 percent of the people in 2006 – the year when the latest poverty figures were taken – were below the poverty line. Given the total population of 84 million Filipinos that year, 27 million were poor. Using the 2006 census data, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) says that a family of five living outside of Metro Manila needs P4,177 a month to survive on food alone. To be able to provide for both food and nonfood basic requirements, a family of five needs P 6,274 a month. In Metro Manila, a family with five members needs to earn at least P8,569 monthly in order not to be classified as poor.

What most Filipino families need to survive in a month is just about a gram of cocaine as per Manila street value. Reports have it that cocaine costs about P5,000 to P6,000 per gram in the capital. We can now imagine how much rich kids would squander every time they feast on cocaine. Summing that up in a year, we can be pretty sure that the figure is enough to feed the thousands of empty stomachs in Somalia in one quarter. But that’s just for drugs alone. How about their spending on liquor and on hookers, and their hotel bills, during sex orgies?

Our legal system calls this thoughtless extravagance, or the ostentatious display of wealth – an act made illegal under Article 25 of Republic Act 386, otherwise known as the Civil Code of the Philippines. This law prohibits “thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want.” President Elpidio Quirino lost his re-election bid in 1953 after he was accused of thoughtless extravagance – that he was using a golden arinola (chamber pot) in Malacañang.

Except for that provision in the Civil Code, there is however no other sumptuary law in the Philippines. In ancient Rome, there was a law that prevented “inordinate expense in banquets and dress.” They even had a “hall of shame” where they listed the names of everyone found guilty of a luxurious mode of living. A sumptuary law is defined as that which was made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, and furniture, among others. Sadly, only the Civil Code speaks of thoughtless extravagance in our country. And its downside: there is a need for someone to petition the court to stop an individual or a group, say the Gucci Gang, from lavishly displaying wealth, with the petitioner shouldering the filing fee and all other expenses from his or her own pocket. Who will do that? Any volunteer?

Aside from the great economic divide that has come more evident with the eruption of the Gucci Gang controversy, there are other great divides.

The next is the law enforcement divide. As claimed by Brian, these rich kids do drugs in hotels with the drug dealers delivering cocaine right at their doors. Often it is asked: Why are our laws lenient on the rich yet harsh on the poor? “Those who have less in life should have more in law,” said the late President Ramon Magsaysay, who must be turning in his grave right now knowing that the police had chose to ignore the felony of the rich but always notices the misdeeds of the poor. A quick scan of past news reports reveal no story about a bunch of rich kids arrested while in a cocaine party. But there are a lot about poor street children sniffing rugby to suppress their hunger and loneliness.

And if there is a great divide in law enforcement, expect the same in the administration of justice. Lady Justice may be blind but she can surely sense the smell of money. Isn’t it that blind people have a keener sense of smell? And it is precisely this keen sense of smell for money of those who are supposed to blindly enforce the law and blindly administer justice that makes people lose hope in our criminal-justice system.

All these bring to mind Plato, who said: “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

* * *

Blast From The (Lopez) Past
by Iloilo History
24 March 2008

An Anarchy Of Families
by Nereo Lujan
27 March 2008

Of Libel And Honor
by Nereo Lujan
29 March 2008
The Brian Gorrell blog-Gucci Gang controversy is gaining more and more following after the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN network has started to take it up in its various shows in an apparent attempt to downplay it with legal talks, what with Celine Lopez as among the targets, sending a message (read: veiled threat) that those who will mention the names of people involved, other than Brian’s, may face libel suits. Even the headline of an article posted at ABS-CBN News Online (Online libel: Aussie blogger’s victims are helpless) showed an apparent slant, picturing Brian as a culprit rather than a victim. And the story was a message from the network. But instead of deflecting interest and gaining sympathy for the Gucci Gang, ABS-CBN made Brian’s blog more popular and caused more enrage among bloggers.

There is no question that libel, based on Philippine definition, is present in Brian’s blog. But unless Brian is found guilty of libel or that his blog is proven to be libelous in the courts, people who will mention the names of those exposed in the blog or re-publishes alleged libelous portions of it have nothing to fear. As a rule, republishing a libelous item is libel. Yet, only the court can determine if the first publication is libelous. If proven as such, then republication becomes a crime. But since Brian’s blog came out March 4, no court action has been instituted.

Libel across borders is an interesting issue not only among lawyers but also among bloggers and journalists. Most bloggers are prone to committing libel because of the absence of editorial policies governing their posts. A scan of bloggers’ grammar, construction and content proves that. On the other hand, newspapers now have online editions and these can be accessed anywhere in the globe, and once an article offends someone, the offended party can file a complaint where defamation occurred and not necessarily where the writer is based.

Decades ago, media educator Marshall McLuhan already predicted that technology would shrink the world and that we will all live in one global village. This is true today. And libel across borders is a phenomenon that is already happening.

A landmark case on this involves an Australian businessman, Joseph Gutnick, who sued Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of Barron’s Online, for defamation. Dow Jones is based in New Jersey where the libelous article, which described Gutnick as a customer of a money launderer and a tax evader, was uploaded. And publication and jurisdiction had been the main argument of Dow Jones, saying that for the suit to prosper, Gutnick must institute it where the article was “published from.” But the High Court of Australia ruled in favor of Gutnick, saying he has the right to sue for defamation at his primary residence and the place he was best known, in which case, the state of Victoria.

“So far as damage to his reputation was concerned, Victoria, as the place of his residence, was where most such damage would be done, rather than amongst business, religious or other acquaintances in North America or with the very large number of strangers there who might read about (Gutnick) in the (Dow Jones’) Internet publications,” the Australian Supreme Court said in its 75-page decision, a copy of which can be downloaded from the Internet. In 2004, Dow Jones settled the case and paid Gutnick about $400,000 in fees and damages.

Using the same arguments forwarded by the Australian high tribunal, those who felt dishonored by Brian’s blog may institute a case in any court in the Philippines. But publication and jurisdiction are just among the considerations in this case. If the Philippine court can acquire jurisdiction and proceed in hearing the case, the next question would be: Did Brian actually commit libel as defined by law? Truth is not always a defense in libel, and while Brian might be telling the truth, he can still be held liable if his sole purpose is to besmirch and dishonor. Article 354 of the Revised Penal Code says: “Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown.”

What was Brian’s motive in setting up a blog? To get back his $70,000 that Montano allegedly bilked from him. Is this a justifiable motive? The burden of proof lies in Brian. Does the end justifies the means? In Daez vs Court of Appeals (G.R. No. L-47971), the Supreme Court said: “The goodness of the intention is not always sufficient by itself to justify the publication of an injurious fact; thus the goodness of the end is not a sufficient motive to warrant the employment of illicit means to obtain it. The existence of justifiable motives is a question which has to be decided by taking into consideration not only the intention of the author of the publication but all the other circumstances of each particular case.”

However, if the dishonored parties bring the issue to court, it will sure take a long process before Brian can be brought to the Philippines to face trial. The Philippine government has even failed to extradite Rodolfo Pacificador back to Antique from Canada to stand trial in the murder of former Gov. Evelio Javier. Can the so-called Gucci Gang members be more influential than the Philippine government? Is the justice that they are seeking more important than the justice that the people of Antique have been aspiring for? Australia and the Philippines signed an extradition treaty but this can be a ticklish issue. Brian can invoke what Pacificador had invoked to block his extradition – that he can never get a fair trial in the Philippines. Who does?

Legal arguments and considerations in this case can be never-ending, not to mention the cost which may reach more than $70,000, the amount that DJ Montano allegedly took from Brian. But all that we hear in this controversy is the side of Brian, while the so-called Gucci Gang members have remained mum. While it is true that everyone has the right to remain silent, the Supreme Court has also ruled several times that silence can be construed as guilt. In Ortiz Jr. vs De Guzman (A.M. No. P-03-1708), it said: “Despite all opportunities accorded to respondent to appear and present his countervailing evidence, he failed to do so. Hence, respondent’s silence may be considered as an implied admission of guilt.”

But if the so-called Gucci Gang members break their deafening silence and sue Brian, they have to contend with one legal principle: He who comes to court must come with clean hands. Affirming this, the Supreme Court, in De Castro vs Utility Savings (G. R. No. 166445) said: “This is a frequently stated maxim which is also expressed in the principle that he who has done inequity shall not have equity. It signifies that a litigant may be denied relief by a court on the ground that his conduct has been inequitable, unfair, dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful…” Who’s the real culprit and who’s the real victim in this case?

Meanwhile, there was this female athlete who proclaimed herself “the Charles Barkley of figure skating.” Learning about this, the basketball legend and compulsive gambler quipped: “My initial response was to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realized that I had no character.”

Indeed, libel takes place only when true honor is besmirched.

* * *

It Could Happen To You
by Nereo Lujan
04 April 2008

Blogs, The Internety, And Anonymity
by Danton Remoto
08 April 2008
Won’t I infringe in another person’s right to free expression if I filed a case?

The blog of Brian Gorrell has had 3 million hits, has been written about in the papers and featured on Channel 2, and discussed in radio shows, reunions, e-groups, chatlines and, yes, other blogs.

Since I teach Introduction to Fiction to freshmen students at the Ateneo, when we study character I tell them to look at the motivation. Brian’s motivation here is both a paraphrase and an allusion to a line from Shakespeare: "Hell hath no fury like a woman [in this case, gay man] scorned."

Allegedly, Brian, who ran a flower farm in Australia, took a visit to Boracay and, like all of us, fell in love with the island paradise. There, he met a group of high-powered, social butterflies with mega-media visibility. Brian from the boonies was amazed, perhaps titillated, even proud, to have fallen into such a fabulous group.

And he also fell in love with one of them, a guy who, if you believe the blog and the comments it has spawned, used to run a restaurant in Malate that failed, among other unlucky enterprises. But he always survived such financial disasters, simply because it wasn’t his money that funded them.

So the besotted Brian returned to Australia, sold his farm for A $100,000 – and remitted a total of A $70,000 to our Filipino gigolo. They were supposed to fund two businesses – a restaurant and a travel agency – a nest egg for two people who love each other. Brian claims he has the receipts from Western Union to prove his case. But when the Filipino gigolo dumped him and could show no proof of neither a restaurant going or a travel agency booking tickets, Brian began to blog.


The effect was electric. One of my best friends told me about it three weeks ago, telling me to read it before it was shut down.

And so I did. And thus, I need to make a full disclosure, for the sake of journalistic ethics, before I go on. All of the people involved write for the same newspaper as I do, the Philippine Star, but I had only met two of them in a newspaper party. And this opinion piece is neither a beef for – or against them.

The other disclosure is that Tim Yap, who invented the word "eventologist" and was roundly bitched at in some of the unmoderated comments, donated a painting for the Ang Ladlad auction held at the National Museum in October of 2006. Unfortunately, the painting was not sold and after the May 2007 elections, Ang Ladlad chose to donate it to our secretary, a transgender who is moving to – what a coincidence! – Australia with her boyfriend, to start a new life.

The disclosures having been made, where do we go from here?

Unmoderated comments

When Brian began to blog, he only wanted his A $70,000 returned, to pay for the astronomical costs of his medication for infections arising from HIV-AIDS. He did not know that the blog would take a life – or lives – of its own. The comments are unmoderated, and I read Brian’s entries and the comments for two hours.

And then I had to stop. My migraine began to throb, coming from a vein in my left temple. I felt that the unmoderated comments had descended to unmitigated bashing. One guy’s sexual organ was compared to a needle [but not in the haystack]; the other woman’s body – a scion of a former Marcos crony – was "bigger than a van." Being just friends of the Filipino Gigolo and having had no direct bearing on the case at hand, I felt the unmoderated comments were way off the line.

And yes, they were anonymous.

I began to wonder what is it about the Internet – and its anonymity – that releases the bestial, the bitter, and the bad in some of us.

Four years ago, I helped edit a gay men’s magazine. I charged them half the rate because they promised to include serious gay issues in the magazine. But I had to resign after closing one issue.

One of the models complained to me that he was being harassed by an administrator. And when I saw the photos, I nearly fainted. I was talking to my lawyer on the phone every day. He cautioned me that one definition of porn is showing pubic hair, since pubic hair is part of the genitals. So my design director and I had to erase and clean all the hair, cut all the photos from the hip bone down. And then I left.

Victim of bashing

After I left, the bashing against me started in the gay yahoo groups. Somebody impersonated me, but was found out quickly because, to quote one of my defenders, "the guy mixed his past tense, his presente tense, and his future tense in one sentence, and Danton does not do that." Another again impersonated me and sent an appeal for hairy men, who are supposed to be my weaknesses. A Filipino director who was scandalized had to call me up to ask if that was me.

And before the May 2007 elections, one of my friends in the administration party called me up to ask if I was, indeed, that naked guy in the Internet? It turned out that somebody had been spreading my picture in cyberspace. My laughter must have sounded like that of a mad hyena because he added quickly, "Oh, I was sure it wasn’t you. His body was just too hunky."

And recently, in another gay site, one guy wrote in Bicolano that "In the Heart of Summer," my short story that won third prize int he Philippine Free Press and posted in the site was plagiarized. Another anonymous entry said I was "delusional" and "a glamorous mendicant" because I want to run for public office even if I had no money. I like the delusional and the glamorous mendicant, because we all know that even Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had to raise funds for their campaigns.

But I was cross with the accusation of plagiarism.

Slippery slope

I called up my lawyer, who advised me to get the anonymous’ guy’s IP number. The site owner gave it to me. My lawyer wanted to investigate, track down the guy’s real name and address, and file a case. With the cold logic and knife-keen sharpness of a pilot on a carpet-bombing mission, he told me what we would do.

But I had to stop. First, the site owner is in the closet and would be dragged into the case. Second, like UP summa cum laude and Bb, Pilipinas Universe Anna Theresa Licaros who was blasted for competing in the Miss Universe and thinking it was a Quiz Bee, won’t I infringe, somehow, in another person’s right to free expression?

It’s a slippery slope, a dangerous divide.

In my heart of hearts, I do hope that, if the blog entries are true, Brian would get back his A $70,000. Having an incurable disease is painful enough to go through. He does not need the deeper pain of a heartbreak, and a betrayal.

* * *

Of Callousness And Indifference
Nereo Lujan
12 April 2008

Blog And Betrayal
by Hope Ngo
June - August 2008