Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Links to The Washington Post and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

“If you don’t get it, you just don’t get it.” - The Washington Post.

“Jeff Bezos got it!  In fact, he totally got it.” - my barber.

The latest news that shocked Washington, D.C. is the sale of The Washington Post paper by the Graham family to Amazon’s founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jeff Bezos.

How will the change of ownership affect the paper itself, its employees, and its current policies and character as the provider of local, national, and international news?  Will it continue its role as a mover and shaker as it universalizes local knowledge and localizes universal knowledge?


My barber always hears this at the barbershop, “Nothing happens in the world without the knowledge or some influence, directly or indirectly, of Washington, DC”  

This explains the fact that almost all countries, especially the developing ones are represented in the Capital.  This is either through their embassies or even through law, lobby and PR firms who aggressively advocate for their causes.  So are non-government organizations, trade and business associations, religious, educational, and charitable institutions, large and multinational companies, and of course, political constituents.  Through them causes become known and debated on!

For academic and professional researchers, Washington, D.C. is always the place to go.  The Library of Congress has a copy of almost every book, fiction or non-fiction on earth.  The country desks at the State and Commerce departments give you access to information (demographics, economic, political, etc.) for every country.  For more details, the CIA makes the non-confidential data available to the public.  Of course stored and hidden, but retrievable when necessary, data collected by the National Security Agency (NSA) abroad and locally, affirms the overwhelming reach of Washington.


Every active player mentioned above could not have survived Washington without being affected by the indisputable influence of The Washington Post.  Either as subscriber, reader or most specifically, a recipient of what the paper provides namely: local, national, and international news, facts, and views.  It covers almost every field of endeavor – science, art, sports, entertainment, politics, business, and many more.

In fact, even passive players including residents have been and continue to be touched by the paper to their dying day depending on what Jeff Bezos would eventually do.

Personally, I did have exposure and links to The Washington Post.  It goes as far as when I was one of 6 among 2,882 American Field Service scholars from 59 countries gathered in Washington, who was interviewed by the paper.  It landed on Page A11 of the paper on July 19, 1964.

Then, in 1977 after my family and I escaped from the Marcos dictatorship, we came to Washington, D.C. recognized as “political refugees” both by the United Nations and the United States.  The Washington Post published our experience after an interview.

In the early 1980s Ferdinand Marcos had a U.S. State visit.  Working with The Washington Post we exposed two things on Marcos after extensive research.  First, was Marcos’ excessive spending during the visit.  David Valderrama worked with me in providing data to Donnie Radcliff of The Washington Post.  The paper published it during the visit.  The exposure helped propel Valderrama to become the first Filipino elected State official in mainland USA.  A top hotel executive who was introduced to us by the late Ninoy Aquino also helped us in obtaining accurate figures.

Second, was the exposure of Marcos’ Fake Medals.  A research team led by then Colonel Boni Gillego provided leads and testimonies of living Marcos’ commanding officers belying Marcos’ claims of heroism to John Sharkey of The Washington Post.  Ninoy Aquino and I signed as witnesses to the affidavits of the guerilla commanders. The latter’s article was also published during the State visit.  

In the early 1990s, The Washington Post Company was granted pioneer status to operate a wireless technology called Personal Communications Systems (PCS).  In the same period, I was able to negotiate a joint venture deal between SysCom of Silicon Valley, California and RCPI (Radio Communications of the Philippine Islands).  The latter was the largest telegraph company in the country while the former had a patented technology to transfer digitally telegrams, messages or mails several times faster than what RCPI was using then.  

Through my sister-in-law, Ria Manglapus who was with The Washington Post arranged for me to meet with the Vice-President of the Post company.  I proposed that the company join us in the Philippines to introduce its PCS wireless technology and operate a cellular phone business.  I offered the universal telecom franchise of RCPI.  Despite its initial interest, the Post decided not to do it.

In May 1999, JMS (James Martin Systems) Worldwide, Inc., an IT company and a wireless communications consulting firm hired me as a Project Manager.  JMS, which was named after James Martin, the grandfather of information technology, was partly owned by The Washington Post.  When I successfully landed a big contract on Y2K Contingency Planning in the Philippines, I was named Country Manager.  While we were there, we developed the Emergency Communications Network (ECN) and proposed the concept of a Philippine Rural Interconnection Development Enterprise (PRIDE) - a national broadband network.  I also called it the Rural “Electronification” Program.


After the EDSA Revolution, the digital revolution was concurrently moving at an exponential pace.  I wanted to take advantage of both revolutions by establishing operations in the Philippines.  I did not only introduce the new digital messaging and wireless voice technologies but digital sales and marketing concepts that proved successful by other companies later on.

First, I set-up a company called  The idea was to make accessible and available locally, nationally, and to the world products sold at Divisoria market at bargain prices.  Then, I negotiated a joint venture with the Alemar’s Bookstore to sell their books and other products online.  The venture included the sourcing of all our supplies from a trader in Divisoria.

This sounds like the business model of Jeff Bezos’, right?  I went further.  I went into electronic publishing.  I procured the license to manufacture and exclusively distribute in the Philippines. Franklin’s eBookMan.  This is a device that combined the features of electronic organizer, eBook reader, MP3 player, Audio Book player, Voice recorder and others depending on the apps.

Given the eBook technologies we created eBooks and eLibraries for sale online and offline..  We called them “library in your pocket” and the law libraries as “law on the go”.   We jokingly told law students or lawyers, “you can now take the law in your own hands.”

Later on, bought Franklin’s eBook technology and the eBookMan became Kindle.  The rest is history!   Jeff Bezos is now a multi-billionaire spending 1% of his wealth to buy The Washington Post.

On my part, unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances prevented a successful outcome for my business model.  But as my father would say, “no such things as failure, only suspended success.”

What would be the direction of The Washington Post?  Bezos’ letter to the employees should give an indication.   He says, “The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of owners.”

When a dissatisfied customer of the paper wrote to Bezos, “Thank god you’re getting involved, you understand customer services,” the latter immediately responded, “Thank you for your input.  Keep your ideas coming.”

We might see more space allotted to Letters to the Editor in both offline and online versions and an increase of Bloggers in the online edition – not unlike the comments, ratings and reviews in

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