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Yuga meets the Kid Blogger




People have been calling and texting me all day yesterday. The common question — is there a blog wars going on? I believe the Philippine blogging community is going through growth pains. I think it’s a sign that we’re maturing as a microcosm of the society we actually live in. And yes, this society is so full of characters, with differing opinions. All these will come to pass but for the meantime, let’s all feel the pain.

So I had dinner with father and son Allan and Carl Ocab last night. And here’s my take on this issue…

We originally arranged the meeting for Thursday afternoon as I am swamped with so many meetings and deadlines. However, Carl’s mother felt it might be too late to wait that long so I cleared up my evening to talk to them.

We chatted the whole night for about 3 hours between 7 to 10PM and I asked a ton of questions. Mostly, the questions are about Carl’s personal relationship with his family (especially his father), his other hobbies and interests or how well he does in school. But why did I ask those questions when I can just give the boy a writing assignment while I look from behind him and see if he can come up with such well thought out discussions on monetization, traffic-generation or arbitrage? Well, I look at it differently.

I saw the need to answer the more critical questions:

1) How’s the relationship between the father and the son?

2) Is the son being forced to enter into this arena or he did this on his own volition?

3) Is there indeed any form of child exploitation going on, as alleged by several parties?

Before I try to answer the questions above, let me be clear to everyone and state that there was coaching involved. The father played a significant role in the kid’s direction toward problogging. In fact, Allan Ocab admitted that he was the one who thought of the title “Make Money Online with a 13-year old” after a week of discussing about it with Carl.

Yes, Carl had help. He was taught a bit of grammar, spelling and even tone of writing. As to how far the coaching went, I could not determine. This, both parent and child do not deny. “But what’s so wrong with that?“, the father asked. John Chow and Darren Rowse helped him too thru their blogs.

Yes, Carl isn’t a very eloquent speaker. He talks like a 14-year old — a 14-year old who knows how to reverse-engineer some WP templates, or prowl the DigitalPoint forums and bid out some simple projects to Indians. That does not mean he can’t write better than a regular 14-year old. He’s a bit shy, yes, but if you treat him like a mature person and not look at him as a kid, he’s very open and candid. I actually learned a thing or two from the stories he shared.

I wasn’t there to size him up. He doesn’t deserve it. I was there to size up the father. A person can mull over a well–written paragraph and not be obvious about it but they can’t pause for 5 minutes at a time before answering a question face-to-face. That’d be a dead giveaway, and I’ve talked to each one separately albeit for a brief moment during CR breaks.

So here are my answers to the questions above. I believe the father and the son has a good relationship. I couldn’t remember talking with my dad about serious stuff around Carl’s age. I don’t think Carl is being forced to go into internet marketing/problogging by his father (well, he has access to his dad’s credit card, that’s for sure). The kid had other previous interests in sports, music and even girls. That being said, I don’t believe there was any issue of exploitation, whatsoever.

Still, don’t just take my word for it. These are just my observations. My interpretations could be skewed or prejudiced by my own sets of belief or how I interpret ethics which is what this issue is all about. What might be fine by me could by unethical to someone else. We might not agree on some things, yet, it’s nice to know that we can agree to disagree.

I told Carl that he shouldn’t be disconcerted with this and should continue blogging if he’s really passionate about it. In fact, I encouraged both of them to join more of the upcoming events, mingle with other bloggers and try to get to know people more. I’m hoping Carl won’t be as quiet and seemingly evasive as the first time. Next time you see him on August 23 at the SM Hypermart event, do greet him and say hi. Get to know him first on a personal level before shooting hard-hitting questions. Despite what we read on his blog, he’s still a very young kid.



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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57 Responses

  1. BrianB says:

    Cultural differences? My father used to make my “shop” projects for me. When my teacher gave me a 79 for a very well-done drawer handle, my father went to school and had a confrontation with my shop teacher.

    What can you do?

  2. BrianB says:

    Coaching? Yeah, I think Dad types what he thinks the son is thinking, that’s what’s going on.

    But “no exploitation” is a “possibility” if you’re talking about Philippine culture. Just don’t pretend you can get away with a “sweet explanation” about it to a foreigner.

    But, Filipinos are also great believers of laissez faire, especially concerning business and business ethics. Heck, even with adultery we’re so laiisez faire.

  3. Hi Yuga,

    I really enjoyed the night (Even though I got sleepy when we were at Starbucks, ang lamig kasi and now I know that you don’t drink coffee :D )

    Oh yea, I know it’s 9:15 AM and I’m still at home (I don’t bring those laptops and 3g gadgets :P )

    We have exams since yesterday that’s why our schedule is in the afternoon.

    Thank you sa mga nagparticipate sa discussion but actually, it’s not worth pagawayan. Dapat peace ang pinoy blogosphere lagi kahit may misunderstandings at times.

    Best regards,
    Carl Ocab

  4. BrianB says:

    Hey, you’re supposed to be in school.

    – Concerned Citizen

  5. yuga says:

    @Brian: He showed me his class schedule. His classes starts at 12:00 noon. His IP address is Destiny Cable, that’s what they use at home.

    @Carl: Nahh, just Mocha frap. ;)

  6. BrianB says:

    I used to be as mild mannered and civil as this kid, but my parents became so worried they had to send me to have regular electric shock treatments.

  7. BrianB says:

    BTW, Abe. I finally checked out Auction Ph. Did you lknow they are selling Dell XPS M1710 at 40k PHP? How’d you figure that?. I’m definitely going to buy one. It’s got a three-year Dell warranty. Even if I have to go to HK or Singapore every time some thing went wrong, it would still be a bargain.

  8. I’m glad to see something sensible written ere on tis situation. I’ve seen a lot of drivel in the past few weeks … jmuch of it from people who should get a life and stop trying to run other’s lives for them.

    One of the reasons I live in the Philippines is because there are not 10,000 “go-gooder” busybodies telling me what to do (and what not to do) every minute of the day. Now, do to the “magic” of the Internet … and a lot of people with too much time on their hands … it appears the suffocating US-style “child-smothering” approach to life has followed me here. I wonder why these crusaders aren’t worried about the 14 yo girl with forged papers who is working as a GRO or the 14yo boy with 2 years of schooling who spends 14 hours a day in his uncle’s jeepney collecting fares or the 14 yo girl who cleaned our house yesterday because her mom )who usual works for us one day a week) was sick and if the girl didn’t come by and work … and get paid … they wouldn’t have eaten last night?

    Let’s put things in perspective here. A bright and interesting 14yo boy and his dad are collaborating on a blogging effort. How much does Carl do and how much does his dad do? Yuga took the time to give us a pretty decent perspective, but the bottom line is .. what difference does it make? If you think using a 14yo’s persona to make a blog better read and more interesting is ‘exploitive” of the child then I would submit you have a _lot_ to learn about exploitive behavior. Carl is not being “exploited” at all. How I wish I could have worked together on something like that with my dad when I was 14 … no matter which of us was the better “wordsmith”.

    And if your outrage is about the lack of verisimilitude regarding the actual identity of the person responsible for each keystroke? Wow are you naive’ You probably think Kumiko Suzuki ia actually a 20-something Japanese-American wwoman who moved to Tokyo to blog … as just one current “put on” example. I have some ocean-front property in Arizona, USA for sale cheap … just PayPal me the money. ‘k?

  9. Hari Skwatir says:

    to the so-called “ethical bloggers”…hate to say i told you so.

  10. BrianB says:

    Forget about Carl Ocab, how about that $900 XPS M1710?

  11. BrianB says:

    “to the so-called “ethical bloggers”…hate to say i told you so.”

    Told you so? What do you mean? Was the debate settled? Sure Dave Starr’s comment was lengthy but it’s far from settled.

    I suppose Carl Ocab et fils best defense is that the blog was too obviously “non-teen” that you’ll have to be a moron to think that the author is trying to con anybody and be offended by it.

  12. Jon Limjap says:

    BrianB,

    Are you in any way related to benign0? You two sound alike..

  13. BrianB says:

    Benign0 is not an original by any means. But check out the 40k M1710. Abe, I’m trembling in anticipation. 40k? Can Afford!

  14. jhay says:

    You see? All of this could’ve ended quick and in a more positive note if the critics had just invited them over to dinner or something else, talked to each other and got to know each other more.

    Keep it up Carl!

  15. Sorry for the lengthy reply, BrianB … my daddy made me do it … haa haa ha I couldn’t resist ..

  16. Prudence says:

    I’d like to congratulate you, Abe, for doing something like this, interviewing Carl and his dad. It’s the rational way of going about things. Yeah, there has been a lot of commotion in the blogosphere regarding this. Although we cannot really completely remove the possibility that people will speculate about the real identity of the blog’s writer (who doesn’t gossip, anyway?), there are just some that could go overboard. At least now, there’s a balance of perspectives available. Actually, I’m kind of “expecting” that Carl would be posting his defense, though I shouldn’t really expect him to. But, at least now, he’s been given the chance to speak for himself, in a manner of speaking.

    Maybe this should make the issue simmer down a bit. Personally, I’ve already voiced out my doubts about the authorship of the blog. But that’s it. I don’t want to delve into the issues of the ethics related to it, though I cannot really prevent others from speculating some more nor do I have the right to prevent them from doing so.

    I guess we could just leave the kid alone and stop reading the blog if it’s offending. Or we could continue on reading the blog if the information we derive from it is useful for us, and not focus anymore about what is deemed a doubtful authorship.

  17. Sam says:

    Wow first time to see a father and son tandem doing a blog. Hhhmm…i’ll try this “project” with my son in the future, hopefully the outcome would be pretty much similar to this *laughs*

    Sam
    Flip Brown Guy
    http://www.flipbrownguy.com

  18. SELaplana says:

    so i will do the same with my future son. we will start blogging when he’ll be 2 year old and we’ll call our blog, Learn Lessons with a 2 year old boy blogger. Wow!

  19. Kiven says:

    I’d do it with my son but we’re busy playing world of warcraft so….

  20. dimaks says:

    Now i also got an idea when my son gets the hang of making his drawings worth publishing on the web and we might just make a blog for it :)

  21. ba says:

    Abe, my mom writes my entries. Treat me to dinner! Lol. XD Kidding.

    Anyways. Sana lumamig na mga ulo ng mga tao. Mahirap na ang may mga nang-aaway. Pati kami tinira na rin eh.

  22. KK says:

    Ethical or not, it’s driving traffic alright. I’ve never heard of Carl and his father before. Now I have and clicked to see their site. I learned that internet traffic is a science on it’s own.

    I don’t have the right to make a ‘judgement’ on the situation since I don’t know these people. But who am I to judge anyway?

    All this noise in the Philippine problogging world will surely get the BIR’s attention.

  23. BrianB says:

    “All this noise in the Philippine problogging world will surely get the BIR’s attention.”

    I told you people to start payin your taxes.

  24. Miao says:

    With all the trolls in the guise of concerned netizens proliferating in the blogosphere, glad to see that reason and inteligence still prevails:

    http://houseonahill.net/2007/08/13/disclosure-policies-carlocab-and-blogging-ethics/

  25. BrianB says:

    MIAO,

    People should buy a book on ethics or something. Simpleng bagay nacoconfuse sila.

  26. benj says:

    Here’s my take.

    It’s no secret that a lot of people have doubts regarding the truth behind the blog. Even before Noemi sounded off, many people have already cited their puzzlement regarding the idea of having a 13 year old boy blog about the materialistic niche of making money online.

    Noemi didn’t exactly propose a new idea when it came to challenging the credibility of the people involved. It has always been in people’s collective unconscious.

    Here’s where it gets dicey.

    No one was exactly talking about the idea of child abuse and slavery (in the kidnapped kids made to beg context that some people would like to paint it). That is why the argument was hard to swallow.

    Though the supposed conclusion of “saving the child” from the clutches of his manipulative father sounded like a great idea. The fact that there wasn’t much substance to the argument other than a few short conversations shared between the boy and certain adults, made the allegation quite puzzling.

  27. The Ca t says:

    Congrats Yuga. This is the best approach that one took to settle the issue. Some claimed that they have worked in the corpotate world but still they need to learn the proper manner by which grievances should be resolved,i.e. not in the building hallway, not in a party and definitely not without the company of the parent.

    Interrogating a minor without the presence of a parent is a form of harrasment whatever the motive maybe.

    Even the hardened criminals are entitled to keep their silence without the presence of a lawyer.

    Nosey people could not engage the child in an ambush interview for the purpose of pressuring him to squeal on something which they like to find out.

    If they feel that the child is being exploited, then the issue should have been thoroughly discussed with some people who are “genuinely concerned about the boy”, write a letter addressed to the father and settle this issue without subjecting the minor to the unfavorable media exposure.

    But I do not see this as an exploitation because if it is then, some of the bloggers may be accused of the same case when their minor children are already earning from webhosting business and from blogs which earn from ads . Is there any difference?

    Thank the father that he is level headed enough to thresh this out with Yuga who has his way of resolving the conflict instead of engaging the “concerned people” in word war.

  28. AnitoKid says:

    “Dapat peace ang pinoy blogosphere lagi kahit may misunderstandings at times.” – very well said Carl! Mas pinahanga mo kaming lahat!

    @Yuga: “I wasn’t there to size him up. He doesn’t deserve it. I was there to size up the father.” – Kudos to your efforts, kabayan!

  29. BrianB says:

    “Dapat peace ang pinoy blogosphere lagi kahit may misunderstandings at times.”

    I dunno if you’ve had your head cut off yet, but if that ever happens I don’t think you’ll be as peace-loving. Go AFP!

  30. rawl says:

    Fair enough. Tnx abe for posting this. As long as the kid is enjoying what he ( and his dad) does… right?

    By the way, you blog looks good on my Nokia N800! got this blog bookmarked for easy access.

  31. rhodora says:

    LOL! Those questions you asked Carl made you sound like a worker from the Social Welfare Department. But I agree with The Ca t: “Interrogating a minor without the presence of a parent is a form of harrasment whatever the motive maybe.”

    You did the right thing, Yuga. Kudos to you! And true, Carl deserves a better treatment from fellow bloggers. Let’s give the boy a chance.

    On another note, however, don’t parent-bloggers exploit their kids in some ways?

    Posting photos of their children, for instance – for the purpose of attracting more traffic to their sites – is a form of indirect exploitation, especially when those involved are babies who are still oblivious of the blogosphere. Well, of course, parents have authority over their minor children, but when done for money….????? Now, only our consciences can answer this question.

    And I am no exception. One time my teenaged daughter complained to me and called my attention for posting some of her pics without her permission. Imagine how embarrassed I was when she said I was exploiting her! So from then on, before publishing any of her pics in my blog, I have learned to consult her first.

    Just saying my piece. And yes, I wish the whole blogosphere – PEACE!

  32. Jeffrey says:

    Child exploitation? How about child actors?

  33. jehzlau says:

    sino bang nag simula ng gulo? di ko alam to ah.. huli talaga ako sa balita.. heheh nakita ko pala tong si carlo sa max’s last emerging influential blogs of 2007 eyeball.. kaso nahiya akong bumati.. mahiyain kasi ako.. bwahaha! kita kits nalang sa taste asia 2 :P

  34. Not everybody believes him, I see. It is difficult to believe that a 13-14 years old writes such articles, indeed.

  35. KK aka Tina says:

    Knowledge can be learned pretty quickly with the right IQ but wisdom is only earned through life experience.

    From the ‘air’ of the authority of this 14 year old’s website can only be achieved through life’s experience and I can’t really see how a 14 year old can wisen up that much.

  36. 宝茹 says:

    Kid blogger, hehehe…that’s a nice ring to it!

  37. Maruel says:

    Siya po ba yung may blog na blue and white ang theme before? Para kasing nakita ko na yung blog niya before, hindi ko lang matadaan, hehe! :D

  38. Juan Burton says:

    Hello … ok ka lang?

  39. Nice!..
    It’s inspired me! :)

  40. BLAINE says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! @AmandaYJS @liyinglings HIT HER TWITTER API LIMIT! SHE CANNOT SPAM YOU UNTIL ONE HOUR LATER! XD

  41. marijoy galo says:

    Can u help me?what kind of stick that i can use to my cherrypad even i dont have wifi i can make internit.can you help me these my problem

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