Jun Sabayton, BNO Tees, and Intellectual Property Rights: #BloggerProblems

Sunday, September 21, 2014 Stef dela Cruz, MD 8 Comments

This just in: BNO Tees (by the Boys Night Out of 89.9FM) released the “Pasisikatin kita hija foundation” t-shirt. The problem is, director Jun Sabayton was one of the people who first came up with the catchphrase... and he wasn’t informed about the shirt.

Jun Sabayton and BNO tees“Wala ba kaming share? (Don’t we get a cut?)” -- Jun Sabayton disappointed with BNO Tees after they released a t-shirt using a catchphrase he was partly responsible for.

Sabayton is sort of pissed, as you can see. I can sympathize. After all, not so long ago, a respected blogger also copied my work. Actually, that blogger was the one who was pissed at me!

Much Feels?

Maybe I shouldn’t react this way. Maybe I should allow other people to get inspired by my blog posts. But when a fellow blogger takes photos with the same angles as yours and goes as far as to copy your contest criteria verbatim, shouldn’t you feel bothered at the very least?

A year ago when all the copying and the lack of originality came into being, I didn’t want to make the issue a public one. I tried to do things by the book.

I informed the public relations team (led by a nice person, really) about what happened. I showed her photos comparing my work with the other blogger’s, the same photos attached to this album you’re seeing below.

bloggerThe feeling I got when a fellow blogger took photos that resembled my own: creeped out.

is this plagiarism?Click on the image to enlarge.

intellectual property rightsTo read the text, click on the image.

I thought it was the right thing to do: Ask the public relations manager who got me to blog about the event to act as mediator. More importantly, I thought the PR manager would stand by my side because I was the one who was wronged.

I thought it was important for PR firms to advice bloggers about how important it was to respect original ideas and to never tolerate copying, plagiarism, copyright infringement, and everything else in the same “unoriginal” basket.

But as nice as the PR manager was, the response to me was, “Mabait siya eh.” The PR didn’t want to reprimand the blogger because he was “a nice person”.

Hashtag: #bloggerproblems.

No longer keeping mum

I was disappointed. I was annoyed/ bothered/ saddened – and the list would go on if only I hadn’t run out of adjectives. Just like Jun Sabayton, I felt like my ideas had no protection from people who wanted to pass my ideas as their own, just because everything is online.

I didn’t want to hate the blogger. I didn’t want to pick a fight. So when I saw him in an event, I said, “[Name of blogger who copied my work], is that you? I didn’t recognize you.” I smiled.

His reaction? He gave me a nasty look, rolled his eyes, and looked away.

Goodbye, peace of mind. Hello, wrinkles. Welcome to the Philippines.

“Mabait” vs “Mabuti”

This issue between Jun Sabayton and the Boys Night Out reminded me of how I kept quiet about my blog post being duplicated for more than a year. But before I go any further, let me be clear: The three guys of BNO are super nice. Jun Sabayton is super nice, too.

The blogger who copied my work is also super nice. The PR manager who didn’t stand by me was super nice as well.

Yes, it counts to be super nice. It’s great to have people who are mabait. But it also counts to be mabuti.

We have to say sorry when we are wrong. We also have to stand by people if they are wronged.

There is no need to fight. But there is a need to apologize, make amends, and do what’s right.


I come in peace… but I’m putting my foot down.

The PR manager tried to get me and the errant blogger to talk. But I was never approached by the blogger in question. (Hey, he rolled his eyes at me, remember?)

I don’t know what the rules are in public relations, but I expected something more from the PR manager. Part of me wished they defended me and fought for my honor (naks) instead of pointing out that the blogger who had no originality was “mabait ”.

Adding insult to injury, this was what the PR manager said via email:

“Honestly, [content duplication] is not out of the ordinary (and is in fact a "common practice" with product related releases) because bloggers have a tendency to wait for the first one to blog and follow his/her lead since you are all given the same material.”

Clarification: The things I wrote in that blog post – including the mechanics, contest duration, mechanics, and photos – were things I made from scratch. They were not copy-pasted from a press release because I don’t want Google to get mad at me for content duplication.

Apparently, if you don’t want your content duplicated, just wait for someone to go first and copy their work. After all, it’s “common practice”.


I remember my 80-year-old aunt telling me when I was young that I should beware of people who are nice but evil. “The prince of darkness is a gentleman,” she told me. I thought she was being overly dramatic. Odd, because she rarely was.

“The prince of darkness is a gentleman,” my wise aunt used to say.


Man, she’d be psyched if she found out I actually learned a thing or two from her!

Here’s the thing. We shouldn’t be allowed to get away with our crimes just because we are nice. (Hey, if I steal your man but I’m nice about it, can we still be friends? No? Yeah, I thought so.)

We live in a country where we are almost helpless when our ideas are copied. But Jun Sabayton’s openness and bravery inspired me to be just as bold, which is why I’m telling you this now after more than a year of silence.

I’m sure the three awesome guys of BNO didn’t mean any harm. Maybe they didn’t know about Jun Sabayton’s contribution. I’m sure they’ll work it out with him – he’s equally awesome, anyway.

Sigh. If only I could expect the same happy ending with my story.

Here’s looking at you, blogger who copied my work and rolled his eyes

It’s time for the nice PR manager to stop defending the guilty on the basis of niceness. I hope she allows the nice but unoriginal blogger to man up. Let the said blogger prove how nice he truly is.

Maybe the blogger who took carbon-copy photos thought it was “acceptable” to do so. Maybe he didn’t mean any harm. But if the blogger who copied my work is reading this, it would be awesome if he realized he did me wrong.

It would be awesome if he realized I didn’t want war. I just wanted him to acknowledge what he did wrong. If only he could find it in his heart to apologize.

Privately is fine. Publicly is better.

Sadly, I am tired of trying to initiate the meeting. I am tired of waiting. The people who have tolerated, perpetuated, and committed the sin should be the ones trying to find a way to make peace with me, not the other way around. (FYI, rolling one’s eyes and citing a person’s nice traits do not a dialogue make.)

Besides, all this time, despite the blatant copying that the blogger did, I’ve been mabait. Now, it’s his turn to be mabuti.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. That is just wrong - the blogger who rolled his eyes at you that is.

    If he didn't copy your work why did he react in such way? Its so ridiculous! He should really man up. If he is really one.
    And its good that you made this post to know that you are putting your foot down and want something to be done about this issue.

    I hope this gets resolves soon.

    take care! :)

  2. I can relate to this. I published a post-hackathon blog post when I got home after the event. There was no press release given nor any features prior to that. My friends and colleagues in the community were saying thanks because they were looking for information, wanting to know what happened and who won. Moving on.. The next few days, I see these blog posts popping up one by one and I know how much of my work was copied and rephrased. Aside from KabayanTech (which I also write for), nobody made an acknowledgement. I just issued a statement that I'm disappointed over Facebook. A little delicadeza man lang sana :(

  3. Delicadeza. Ah, that word. :)

    Sorry to hear about your work being copied, Dems. Let's hope it doesn't happen to anyone else.

    Brave of you to share your story! Thank you for dropping by, Dems.

  4. Ang kapal din nang mukha nang copy cat.. He/she should know the consequence of being a copycat that if he/she is educated enough... blogger pa naman din sya...

  5. It got me wondering, Donna, who else has he copied in the past? Copycats are most often repeat offenders. Makes me curious.

  6. I especially liked what you said about mabuti vs mabait. I feel that "mabait" is more of a facade, while being "mabuti" connotes sincerity. :)