01416: I Know Blair Carabuena

So now it's Typhoon Helen (International Name: Kai-Tak) that's terrorizing the northern parts of the country. Metro Manila is currently overcast and it seems to be raining on and off here in Cubao while it wasn't raining when I left Makati. But hey, the weather is unpredictable at best and so who knows how things will resolve over the next few hours. Today's the only time that it's actually going to be in the country and it is projected to be out of the country by tomorrow morning. Of course that's just the typhoon itself - who knows that other weather disturbances it might stir up as it moves through our area of responsibility.

TV5 has led the charge in running the story about Robert "Blair" Carabuena "mauling" an MMDA traffic enforcer named Saturnino Fabros. There's no question that he didn't exactly practice the best judgement that day - he had lost his temper and had eventually struck a man just doing his job.

I have to admit that I know Blair personally - we were batchmates all throughout grade school and high school at Ateneo. I won't go into what I know of him or the kind of person that I think he is - even if that were relevant, the Blair that I know was just a child in comparison, given we were all still in school the last time that I had actually intereacted with him. That says nothing about the man that he is today or the quality of his work at his present company.

Beyond the fact that I know him personally, nothing excuses how the internet at large enjoys pouncing on these viral video type cases. And while I agree that he should have the appropriate charges filed against him and due process should take its course, what it does not justify is how people have decided to look for every single online account in his name and ransack it for the details of his personal life. It does not merit people calling for (and I'm not exaggerating) his execution and people publishing his home address and contact information with calls to form gangs to "deal" with him more directly. Now that's just horrible and pretty much why they call all this cyber-bullying.

Edit 08.17.12: Looks like TV5 has run a follow-up post about the cyber-bullying concern.

I feel bad for Blair that this incident threatens to ruin his life. It won't be as easy for him to recover from this incident as compared to other viral video victims like Christopher Lao - who now has endorsement deals and is the poster boy for the Freedom of Information Bill. To be fair, Blair did something wrong, and I'm sure he will merit the appropriate sanctions for that. However this has nothing to do about his weight, his appearance or what he does for a living. But the online witch hunt has decided to call him every possible name in relation to pigs and even to Barney the dinosaur. They enjoy going back to the fact that he's an Ateneo graduate and this just spurs them on to put on more and more shame, insults and sadly even threats. And don't get me started on the telenovela-style calls that this is a "rich vs. poor" type situation, which again is an angle that the media is trying to focus on to some extent.

It's sad that last week the country was praised for its constructive use of social media to help in rescue efforts during last week's heavy monsoon rains. And this week we go back to the somewhat uglier side to social media - using it to ruin a person's reputation and try to vilify him at every opportunity.

And what is going to be even worse is the fact that we also have terribly short memories, especially when it comes to news items like this. So while everyone is focused on this now, but next week people would have moved on to the next story of interest while a man's life and probably his career would have been ruined and it'll change everything that he does. And no one deserves that, especially just a case of just losing ones temper at precisely the worst moment.
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  1. Insightful. But I can't blame people for wanting to ostracize the man. Most of these "cyber bullies" identify with the poor MMDA guy and they see this as nothing but a privileged person bullying the weak. I think this is why most reacted they way they did. And so they take their frustration through online insults.
    To be honest, I think the insults being received by this is man is nothing compared to the humiliation the MMDA guy felt. And this is galaxies different from the Mr. Lau incident. A part of me thinks that he deserves all this and that he should be taught a lesson, but then when I see how his personal information is being broadcasted in social media and how most people are threatening his life, the other part of me thinks he has learned his lesson well and he will be definitely thinking twice before acting like an arrogant prick the next time.

    1. Clearly a lesson has been learned and I'm sure Blair will think twice before loosing his cool again. However the ends never justify the means and seriously, why do people think the internet is the best venue to show how horrid they can be?

  2. Wow! Ibang level na si Atty. Chris Lao :)

  3. We, as human doesn't heed to the law of appropriate response. I had experiences with abusive MMDA traffic enforcers but I didn't resort to hitting them. What Blair did to the enforcer is not an appropriate response and what some of the digital Filipinos are doing to him is not an appropriate response as well. Which brings me to my point, he maybe a victim of a wrong place at a wrong time but he put himself in that position anyways. He is sorry I guess so are the cyber bullies I guess.

  4. Indeed I agree with you. People have minds of their own and we cannot control their actions. Nobody deserves to be bullied. The mmda guy did not deserve that kind of treatment from him either. So I guess the lesson here is we have to be mindful of our actions. Think before you act. - Joel Campos

  5. Meh.

    Short of getting shot in the head, Carabuena deserves everything he's gotten so far. If you ask me, the fact the he hasn't been fired by Philip Morris yet means he's been lucky so far.

    And yes, it IS rich vs poor.

    If there hadn't been a video of the incident, MMDA filing a case vs Carabuena won't even get anywhere. Most people would even think the MMDA guy deserved it.

    Do you think if Carabuena got into a traffic altercation with some other entitled rich schmuck, they'd act like the MMDA guy did? We'd probably have 2 Carabuena's going at each other instead.

    Carabuena is just one spoiled rich kid. His parents probably paid for his university education. Heck, he probably still lives with his parents. His previous job, he got at his Mommy's company. Even now, it's his daddy facing the media, he is nowhere in sight. Why hasn't he manned up and apologized yet? He should have apologized within hours of the video going viral. This isn't some high school kid we're talking about, this is a grown man.

  6. There's a primal need from most of us to protect the underdog. That itself says a lot about our society. Yes, we used the social media last week to band together and help our fellow citizens in need. Well, guess what—this week we're banding together and using the same social media to voice out how we all feel. Though I'm quite sure Saturnino Flores himself is not a saint, nor is he cleared of any 'coercion' to Carabuena, those few seconds of video posterity speaks at length the ugliness of what a poor David can expect from a privileged Goliath on a daily basis. This is not an isolated case. This happens everyday.

    Two nights ago I was at McDonald's on Wilson Street in San Juan and witnessed a similar altercation. It was between the store manager and a privileged man sitting in the back of his chauffeured 8-cylinder van in the drive thru window. The man was cursing all the possible Tagalog curse words at him, then threw a thousand peso bill to his face. I was 10 feet behind the manager. I felt like giving him a big hug.


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