|Find Your Way in SG|
People who know me know that I am a huge Sting fan. People who don't know me that well probably think the same thing, as the name I go by online is Sting Lacson.
So when I learned that Sting was coming to Manila, I bought my tickets early, like a true Sting fan.
But then news came that the venue for Sting's December 9 Manila concert had been moved. It was originally set at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, but it had been changed to the Smart Araneta Coliseum. I will never get used to having the brand name Smart in there, so henceforth I shall be referring to the venue as the Big Dome.
Wondering why the venue had been changed, I searched online and discovered that someone had alerted Sting to the fact that the SM Corporation was involved in an environmental tussle a while back, regarding 182 trees that SM wanted to remove from their Baguio property. In case you have no idea how many 182 trees actually are, that's already the size of a mini-forest.
However, sources online differ as to the identity of that person who actually alerted Sting and got him to agree to a venue change. The foreign media, specifically the Associated Press, says that a certain Mr. Karlo Marko Altomonte initiated the petition for venue change and wrote Sting's Rainforest Foundation about SM's involvement with the trees. This story was picked up by Rolling Stone and Yahoo! And just this morning, Change.org ran an interview with Altomonte in its online newsletter, with the title "The man behind Sting's venue change", where he narrates how the entire thing came about.
The local press, on the other hand, ran a different version of events, citing environmental lawyer Cheryl Daytec-Yangot as the one who wrote Sting's agent's regarding the venue change. This story was picked up by Inquirer and Rappler.
So who was really responsible for Sting's venue change? Was it Mr. Altomonte, or was it Atty. Daytec-Yangot?
Fortunately, Da Couch Tomato was able to get a statement from Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yangot. For security purposes, she has expressed that she does not wish to be quoted directly. So we'll be running her statement anyway, arranging the facts in chronological order and replacing the first-person pronoun "I" with the third-person "she" and "her".
Karlo Marko Altomonte and Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yangot are together in Project Save 182. He crafted the online petition for Sting not to hold a concert in Manila, while she wrote the letter to Sting's camp bringing the petition to their attention.
Earlier, PS 182 had an online petition asking Lady Gaga not to hold a concert in SM-MOA, and this petition was ignored. Thinking the online petition would not reach Sting, Atty. Cheryl was compelled to find other ways to get to him. She made calls to organizations associated with Sting, starting with Creative Artists' Agency in Los Angeles, until she was directed to the office of Ms. Alicia Geist. She had been told to speak with a certain Mr. Arthur Fogal (sic), Sting's manager, but she ended up speaking to Ms. Geist instead. Over the phone, she told Ms. Geist that many human rights and environmental justice advocates were not happy that Sting was going to hold a concert in the SM Mall of Asia. But she also made it clear that it wasn't about Sting; it was about the venue. She then told Ms. Geist about the ongoing court case against SM Baguio, the court order it violated, the spontaneous rallies by environmentalists, and of course the more than 40 trees that SM cut down behind walls in the dead of night.
Ms. Alicia Geist then told Atty. Cheryl to send in an e-mail everything she just said on the phone. She did immediately on the 20th of September, and that same day she got a reply:
In fact, I am Sting’s tour promoter, not his manager.
We (including the artist’s management) are aware of your email.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
By the way, Mr. Altomonte did indeed write to Sting, and his letter was dated September 29, and was not addressed to Sting's management but to the Rainforest Foundation, which Sting heads with his wife Ms. Trudie Styler.
In summary, it is not the intention of this article to pit Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yangot against Karlo Marko Altomonte, making it seem as if they are fighting for credit over who really caused the venue change. They are not. They are colleagues, both hard-core environmental advocates, and getting Sting to change his concert venue to the Big Dome is a collective victory. We just thought y'all would want to know how things really went down.
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