ABOUT TESS CUSIPAG Three Renditions of One Story

By | June 30, 2017

~  Somehow  Tess Cusipag’s story got the spins each of the writer wants in keeping with his own biases and perceptions. Second-hand reporting for one. Injecting some fantasy in another. And dragging names of people not germane to the story in one other. Three renditions of one story. One version lacks the source. Two are inaccurate. However, there’s one thing worth noting – the stories are calculated to demonize Ms. Cusipag and Balita for their unparalleled work to expose wrongdoings in the community.

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“It’s amazing the difference
A bit of sky can make.” 

― Shel Silverstein

TORONTO – The result of Tess Cusipag’s recent brush with the law sounded like “Variations on the Theme of Cusipag” (with apologies to German composer and pianist Johannes Brahms for borrowing the title of his work based on Niccolo Paganini’s works for violin).

Not only did it bring three different interpretations, the result exposed political servility, bias, and antagonism. I also wrote about it but rather than highlight the decision (a copy of which I didn’t have), I focused on the drama that unfolded in the courtroom.

One unsourced report circulated in some online groups was posted by Livvy Camacho of UPAA. Another, a press release, was from Rose Tijam, a president of a social club. A third report was by a Lui Quea ñ o who introduced himself as from the ethnic press but actually from a left-leaning tabloid.

F riends in UPAA forwarded to me a  copy of Camacho’s post.  Terse, unemotional and straightforward, the report I believe was written by her husband, Guy Camacho, who was there in the courtroom. But why wouldn’t he post it as his without using his wife? Is he trying to avoid calling attention to himself so as not to risk exposing allegedly covert activities? Just asking.

Then there’s the article by  Quea ñ o. If I didn’t see him there and were it not for a direct quote from Tess Cusipag, I’d say his account was fake news, or at least part of it.

He’s probably not used to seeing large groups of people, so he wrote, in his own words: “The court was jampacked as the supporters of both defendant Cusipag and plaintiff Sen. Enverga came in droves.”

In a small room such as this courtroom, spectators would have easily “jampacked” or crammed it as there are also other people – the lawyers, the clerks, the court officers. There were only two long wooden benches, half of each were occupied by eight people consisting of the obedient flock of Rosemer Enverga and herself.

Friends of Tess matched their numbers, so the total would easily reach 16. I don’t know if eight, or 16, would qualify as “droves”. Well, if three is a crowd then five times that number would already become large as to be quantified as “in droves”?

Quea ñ o described Tess as “quiet all throughout the proceedings, head bowed as if wanting to hide her face”. Of course, in a courtroom one doesn’t laugh or engage in some merriment. Everyone sits in silence. Lawyers talk in whispers. I don’t think Tess had ever considered hiding her face.

She was more emotional than the suggestion implied by Queaño – that she was cowering in fear, ashamed and conscience-stricken. If I might say, Tess was disturbed that her defense crumbled because of shoddy lawyering by her counsel. (Background story at: http://www.balita.ca/about/the-editor/)

Part of  Quea ñ o’s story was fantasy. He said: “Sen. Enverga was not present during the sentencing but his wife Rosemer Enverga including known leaders and political figures in the Filipino community were present to give Enverga full support”.

The second part of the sentence is questionable, and I quote: ” . . .  including known leaders and political figures in the Filipino community were present to give Enverga full support”.

Do these people fit his description: hack writer Jojo Taduran and wife, the PCCF mouthpiece Fe Taduran;  Rose Tijam, the perennial president;  Guy Camacho, the alleged psywar operative;  Oswald Magno, an advocate for  Balita’s  demise;  Mario Alpuerto, the horseless and swordless knight of Jose Rizal; and Ace Alvarez, partner in crime of Tobias Enverga who created the fictitious troll Tony Tarungan. (Video at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNhl-SRW–0 ).

Obviously,  Quea ñ o’s standard of leadership is quite low, if not ridiculous. He’s magnifying things beyond their normal size. They may be “known” but only in the sense of photo ops, nothing more.

When Tess stood up briefly during the reading, it was to indicate that she was not informed by her lawyer that the judge needed documents that would mitigate his findings of contempt. So it is not accurate to say, as  Quea ñ o wrote, that “she stood up to express her disagreement” with what the judge was saying. Not exactly.

I was there and I had the same reaction, for I knew that Tess had instructed her lawyer to convey to the court through the other lawyer her wishes properly set in documents supposedly submitted to the court before this sentencing.

Quea ñ o was correct in saying we “were visibly shocked” by the verdict. Who wouldn’t when the facts recited by the judge did not conform with what Tess had instructed her lawyer to do? “I was so left in the dark at all,” Tess told  Quea ñ o when he squeezed himself in while Tess was feeling so upset.


But the most telling of the accounts was by the moonlighting Rose Tijam. Nobody knows in what capacity she issued a press release about Tess’ sentencing, as president of PPCO – choose your meaning: Philippine Praise Club-Ontario, Philippine Pet Club-Ontario, Philippine Press Club-Ontario.


Regardless of your pick, she’s there in any, or all, of the three categories, for they show her politics, her bias, and her unfettered canine subservience.


If Tijam is a genuine media person, her press release dated June 14, 2017 exemplifies the opposite meaning, which is that she is not a journalist as some people claimed. She’s a political hack moonlighting as PPCO president to advance the cause of a politician and entertainer.


Catholic School Board Trustee Marlene Mogado was right in questioning Tijam on why she dragged her name to the article – on the second paragraph at that – when all she did was to provide moral support for Tess, a long-time family friend.

Tijam wrote: ” . . . These words comprise the penultimate paragraph contained in Justice Fredrick L. Myers’ 8-page long sentencing document which he delivered orally on June 12, 2017 in the presence of Cusipag and several supporters which included Catholic school board trustee Marlene Mogado and her husband Mogi Mogado”.

Why did Tijam zero in on Mogado’s presence and not on the meat of the story? Clearly, her objective is to smear Mogado and her elective position as trustee by being equated with the “offence of criminal contempt of court” slapped on Tess Cusipag mentioned in her lead paragraph.

For all her pretenses, Tijam’s press release is nothing more than a verbatim rendition of the judge’s decision. It’s not journalism, though it showed something else – like it lacked the hallucinating quality of  Quea ñ o’s reporting and the detachment exhibited by a non-witness like Livvy Camacho.

All in all, the three were playing the still-to-be-written “Variations on the Theme of Cusipag”. Meantime, they need harmony and coordination to be effective.