Category Archives: About this blog

The Philippine Navy ship database is back

A major milestone in the forum rebuilding process (see Rebuilding a cyber-institution) has been reached. The Philippine Navy ship database, the single most comprehensive online collection of information about Philippine Navy ships — both past and present — is back.​

The return of the database also brings back one of the most, if not THE most, comprehensive photographic record of Philippine Navy vessels currently available on defense social media. Over the years, numerous community shipspotters have sent many photos specifically for use on the original index. These images have found a home in the DefensePH database.

Photos in this collection include this iconic photograph of BRP Andres Bonifacio crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.


The thread index currently brings together 145 discussions and is divided into the following sections:

  • Main
  • Decommissioned, strategic reserve, grounded
  • Scrapped, sunk, sold, etc.


Visitors to the index are brought to this section first. Threads here draw attention to everything from the largest combat vessels in Philippine Navy history — the Tarlac class Strategic Support Vessels — to lesser known vessels such as the ADFL-1 class Floating Drydock. From the historic Rajah Humabon which saw action in WWII, to the freshly minted Multi-Purpose Assault Crafts which are not only the youngest vessels in the fleet but also among the fastest.

Consistent with practices of other established public naval references, the operational condition of these vessels are not considered in section assignment. Given the average age the fleet, it is understandable that a number may actually not even be able to get underway, or at least get underway safely. Food for thought for avid followers of online databases that tout numbers of ships with no regard for the state of those ships.

Decommissioned, strategic reserve, grounded

These are vessels that remain in the vessel registry but are no longer in active status. Some are eventually destined to be scrapped. Others are kept as part of the strategic reserve and preserved awaiting reactivation at some future date.

Solely for purposes of this index, vessels that were grounded, and then left in place are placed here to acknowledge their unusual circumstances. One such vessel is BRP Lanao del Norte (LT-504) an ex-US LST-542 class Landing Ship Tank (LST) which ran aground off Pagasa. It’s thread shows the progression from what it looked like in US service to its current scrapped state.

BRP Sierra Madre, another LST-542 class vessel that ran aground at Ayungin shoal and currently serves as outpost monitoring Chinese activities in Mischief Reef, is also a prominent feature of this section. The forum discussion for this boat not only shows the most recent, Philippine Navy authorized, imagery of the vessel, but also shows what it looked like when it was still known as USS Harnett County. Given the vessel’s importance to national defense, this thread is updated as often as forum administrators are allowed.


Scrapped, sunk, sold, etc

This section dwells on ships that were once part of the Philippine Navy, but have since been completely taken off the registry. It a historical record of the fleet that was.

Among the ships in this category are several notable vessels that were lost in typhoons:

RPS Datu Kalantiaw (PS-76). An ex-US Cannon class Destroyer Escort which was lost during Typhoon Rubing (Int’l: Clara) while at anchor off Calayan Island on September 22, 1981. A retired PN officer (aldebaran@timawa/defenseph) described it as one of the worst naval tragedies in Philippine Navy history.

RPS Rajah Soliman (D-66). An ex-US Buckley class Destroyer escort lost to Typhoon Dading while at anchor at the Bataan National Shipyard.

The rebuilding process and beyond

The rebuilding process for this thread actually began on September 25, 2016. Fifteen days after the original Timawa forum was unceremoniously shutdown by its owner. The DefensePH forum itself was established on September 22, but thread index rebuilding didn’t start till 3 days after. The ship database was the first such index created as it was one of the lynchpins of the original community.

Although additional ship discussions have been added to the current thread index since the original Timawa equivalent, a number of mysteries from the Timawa thread remain. Ex-US SC-497 Submarine Chaser class in PN service are an example. Research on those outstanding items continue.

While mindful of the Navy’s past, the index also looks to the future. The DND recently issued instructions for the implementation of the contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) — a South Korean shipbuilder — for the construction of a pair of frigates which are meant to be the most capable vessels in the fleet. In acknowledgement of this development, threads for each of these ships, which HHI reportedly refers to as P159 and P160, are all new additions to the index. As the Navy charts its own course to the future, the forum too continues to grow in content and coverage.


Now, more than ever, the country needs a mature debate platform

The vitriol on the FB extension reached a crescendo with one troll who was peppering a thread with meaningless one-liners. He left one parting shot before his posting privileges revoked, which I decided to leverage as a way to remind folks why we’re really all here.


Reproducing the response here:

You are right about one thing Ronald, this group is messed up. But it is actually messed up because of people who argue the way you do. With zealotish-oneliners that do not contribute to knowledge or understanding. This group was not setup to support just one view. It was meant to foster EDUCATED and MATURE debate. That mean LEVEL-HEADED discussions that don’t let emotion overwhelm reason. What is sending this group to hell is not the current political situation. It’s because many group members have come to assume that anyone who doesn’t share their view is somehow less intelligent or less patriotic. People of equal cranial capacity can disagree people. There are “tards” on BOTH sides of the argument. You don’t become smart just for spouting a view or taking a side. It’s how you arrive at that view that makes that determination.

Want to comment on this post? See here.

The Timawa forum community: Rebuilding a cyber-institution

The process of rebuilding the oldest, active, defense-oriented social media community in the Philippines is fully underway. (Proper credit to the now defunct Kawal Pilipino forum for being first).

 Photo credit to Ludo38

We are taking things slow, making sure to re-establish the posting culture that made the Timawa community what it was, before completely opening the forum up for general membership. For those waiting on membership approval, we ask for your patience. We want to do this right and ask for your patience.

“Building new” often presents an opportunity to re-think how things are structured and organized. As we rebuild the community and its infrastructure, one area that has undergone a make-over is the forum’s front-end: a blog

This blog is hosted on a completely different database and therefore will stay up if the forum ever goes down for maintenance. It will also serve as a source of service bulletins, along with the forum’s Facebook extension:

The blog also allows the community to showcase specific threads. Whereas the original forum only had a static Webpage, the blog will allow forum members who take the time to write extensive — reference quality — posts to have their posts not only on the forum, but also showcase them on the blog for wider circulation. Think Horge and Ignatius level posts.

Here is an example how this would work and tie-back to the forum:

Since posting on the blog itself is disabled, the forum would be the place for comments. Where they can be preserved and further discussed.

It’ll also be a place for updates about the community itself as well as summaries of the discussions within. Admittedly, one issue the forum had was that a lot of the nuggets of information were often buried in years worth of discussions that new members were expected to sift through. That gave rise to a “secondary market” of bloggers who data-mined Timawa discussions. While some were conscientious enough to give credit to the community — since these ideas were often synthesized through the contributions of many individuals and not just one person — as the source of insight, others have not been . . . to the lament and consternation of long-time community members.

The blog, and the forum, will be managed by a moderating team composed of veteran Timawa forum members. This broadening of both access and control of information shared on the forum ensures that no one individual can make far-reaching decisions that can affect the efforts of dozens of individuals who put pro-bono time and effort to making the community what it is. We are here to stay, and we will stay by our efforts as a community.

What happened to “Lame Reports”

This page used to be called “Lame Reports”, a site dedicated to recording media gaffes related to defense issues and was intended as a way to encourage media outlets to get their editorial acts together. However, with the demise of the forum, the site has been re-purposed for a much broader purpose: To promote wholistic discussions about Philippine defense in general, to include its original media focus, as well as to serve as a replacement for the community that was unceremoniously deactivated after 10 years of operation.

The new expanded moderating team, consisting of Timawa forum veterans, look forward to more years of fact-based discussions for years to come with this page and its associated forum as a base.

Join us in our new forum:

Is PH defense reporting getting worse?

Military enthusiasts have come to expect that the Philippine press will almost always get details about key Philippine military developments wrong. Gaffes such as incorrect use of terms (e.g., use of the term “tank” to refer to anything colored green and has armor) to erroneous descriptions of equipment (e.g., called T-28 Trojans “Tora-Toras” and reporting them as World War II vintage aircraft) are so common place, they now almost go unnoticed.

Arguably, the press tends to get away these errors because, in the end, the only readers who care about these factoids are people who are immersed in the defense establishment, either as professionals or as interested observers. These mistakes have been around for years, and save for over-done slaps on the forehead on the part of some readers . . . little harm is ever actually done.

Recently, however, there have been a series of reports whose deficiencies reflect a surprising level of irresponsibility on the part of journalists:

  • Embellishment of articles with Wikipedia details, with little or no regard for whether or not the information was applicable to subject at hand
  • Reporters who don’t even bother to understand the subject upon which they were reporting
  • Mis-quotes and mis-attribution of information

If media practitioners can be so cavalier about defense reports, what shortcuts would they take with their other stories? Are preparation and research becoming optional for the journalists of today? Do editors no longer care if their people do the legwork required to put together a proper story?

The easy reaction to this perceived decline in report quality is to join the chorus of incessant complaints about all things Filipino, throw one’s arms in the air, and declare:  “ganoon talaga ang ‘meeja'”. While that response is easy, it doesn’t really do anyone any good.

A healthy, responsible, press is an important part of a modern democracy. Government press releases, social media, and the blogosphere are all useful sources of information. But there is something to be said for information that is collected by professional journalists and vetted by, theoretically, knowledgeable and mature editors. If the gap between reality and the ideal really is widening, then this casts doubt on the usefulness of the Philippine press. Our democracy will be greatly diminished if this trend is allowed to continue.

This blog seeks to take an alternative track. It seeks to engage media practitioners in an effort to improve defense reporting, and in so doing, promote improvement in other areas of interest. This site is a modest attempt to remind the press that the quality of their writing matters.

This blog draws inspiration from a Website called: That site’s self-proclaimed charter is to help designers “Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design”. In the same vein, this blog hopes to encourage journalists to excel in their fields by providing examples of work by their peers who do the exact opposite and represent the bottom-of-the-barrel of their industry.

It is the author’s hope that site provides media practitioners with useful feedback about their work that they can help them improve their craft.