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  1. HEADQUARTERS: Typhoon Yolanda, heartbreak and Polish for Panties

    November 26, 2013 by pam

    Over the past few weeks, I received a number of messages from different parts of the world – from fellow bloggers, Polish Police readers and even some of my favorite brands – asking if I was okay.

    Thank you for thinking of me. I’m okay. And my friends and family are too. Yes, I’m from the Philippines but I live in Manila, a city that was spared by Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda, as we call it here).

    The whole country had been warned about the typhoon. We were bracing for it. Yes, we’re used to typhoons, but we were told that this was going to be an extra-strong one so we took precautions. Classes were suspended, events were canceled, many people chose to stay indoors.

    On Friday, November 9, the day the typhoon hit, when all we got were strong winds and a little rain, many of us were relieved. “No casualties!” people announced on Twitter, giving one another viral pats on the back, thinking we had survived what was supposed to be one of the worst typhoons in history. We mistook the silence for serenity.

    We were so wrong.

    That night, we didn’t know that the silence meant that the typhoon was so bad, so strong that it caused massive blackouts and brought communication lines down. The people in the affected areas had no way to call for help or even tell the rest of the country about their ordeal. Even journalists who had been sent to the area before the typhoon hit were out of reach. For so many hours, they were cut off from us – we had no clue that cities were wiped out, homes were destroyed, bodies littered the streets and thousands were missing.

    We know now.

    I cannot count the number of times I’ve cried in the past few weeks – after seeing photos of the destruction, after watching news clip after news clip, after hearing about the horrors the people in Visayas went through.

    But not all my tears were sad – because there has been an incredible outpouring of love and support not just from Filipinos but from people all over the world. There have been so many amazing and touching stories – little girls in California holding a bake sale to raise funds for the Philippine Red Cross, a six-year-old boy in Japan donating all the contents of his piggy bank to the Philippine embassy, a poor old lady in Cebu who gave half a pack of powdered milk because that’s all she had, street kids who used the money they earned from begging to buy canned goods and so many others.

    Those of us in Manila are also doing what we could to help. After finding out that Rock Ed Philippines, a group I’ve been supporting for years, was collecting new underwear (an often neglected need in times of calamities) for the typhoon victims, I went to Divisoria (a great place for bargains) and bought dozens and dozens of panties and briefs for kids and adults. I posted on Facebook to tell people where to go for the best prices if they wanted to donate undies too. Soon, pledges began coming in – friends and acquaintances started sending me money so I could purchase more underwear on my next trip.

    Then it hit me – Polish for Panties! if I could sell some of my nail polish fast, I could buy more underwear!

    I’ve known for a while that a polish purge was overdue – my two Helmers are overflowing and I had boxes and boxes of polish stashed away at my grandma’s house. I started with just sixty bottles – most of them new, with some swatched on just one hand. I made signs and brought the bottles to my office along with an empty jar.

    I let people choose the bottles and donate the amount they want – no set prices, no rules. I didn’t even watch over the bottles or the jar, I just put them on a table near my desk and let them have fun.

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    I went home with a jar full of bills. I counted the money and was amazed to discover that we had raised ₱6650 in one night.

    I kept replenishing the stocks and the hardworking people in the office – Fran, Nel, Irene, Sara, Cam and Koko – pimped the polish while I wasn’t there, even bringing them to our other office buildings.

    On the second week, Polish for Panties made another ₱11,588. (I almost cried.) And there’s more money at the office waiting to be traded for panties.

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    So far I’ve gone to Divisoria three times and we’ve purchased and donated over 6,300 undies for the typhoon survivors. I have started running out of nail bottles to trade – we’ve gone through several hundred by now – but I will go through my stash again. It’s been wonderful seeing the ladies in the office get excited over bottles of polish and also thrilling to watch dads, boyfriends and husbands get bottles for the women in their lives.

    Friends and relatives also wired donations and we used the money to purchase relief goods – rice, canned goods, noodles, bottled water, biscuits – and spent the weekend repacking them into family relief bags. Rock Ed picked up the bags and the airline Air Asia Zest flew them to Leyte for free. (I love how the airlines and even resorts with private planes have been using their aircrafts to bring relief to those who need it.)

    Our next project is putting together hygiene kits for the typhoon survivors.

    The work is not over, things are far from normal but I know this country is going to be just fine.

    We are strong people, a resilient nation, and, thanks to the outpouring of kindness and compassion from the whole world, we will rise from this tragedy.

    Like I said in a piece I wrote for the paper, we’re heartbroken but we will never be broken.


  2. HEADQUARTERS: Ebay sellers wanted by Polish Police for photo theft (updated)

    September 3, 2012 by pam

    I wasn’t going to write about this. I really want to keep this blog a happy and positive place. But I changed my mind today because of a message I received from an eBay seller.

    Let’s rewind.

    I’m no stranger to eBay. I’ve gotten some hard-to-find bottles there. But while I love eBay for giving me access to polish that I would otherwise have a very hard time searching for, I hate it for one reason:

    Photo thieves.

    Check eBay on any given day and I can guarantee that you’ll find sellers using photos stolen from some of your favorite bloggers. And this is just Chanel polish. I haven’t even checked the other listings yet.

    eBay seller nycgirl110 stole this photo of Chanel Vertigo from Fruity Lashes. The photo was cropped to hide her watermark.

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    eBay seller geminigreatstore stole this photo of Chanel Mica Rose from All Lacquered Up.

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    eBay seller authentictopbrands11 stole this photo of Chanel Particuliere from Temptalia.

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    eBay seller marcusthegrand stole this photo of Chanel Mimosa from Fashion Polish.

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    Marcusthegrand is a repeat offender. He stole this photo of Chanel Nouvelle Vague from Lacquerized.

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    eBay seller marie5294 stole this photo of Chanel Rose Cache from Ommorphia Beauty Bar.

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    eBay seller lela_thedoctor46 stole this photo of Chanel Mimosa from Karla Sugar.

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    eBay seller pepemarcio stole this photo of Chanel Black Pearl from Vampy Varnish.

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    eBay sellers do not just steal swatches, they steal bottle pics too.

    Like this photo of Chanel Frenzy stolen by eBay seller sanclementeseller from The Beauty Look Book.

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    And these photos of Chanel Tentation stolen by eBay seller lauralovebug16 from The Beauty Look Book and from me.

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    Yes, they’ve been stealing from me too.

    Just last week, Miss Bun told me she spotted an eBay seller using my photos of Chanel Sky Line.

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    What’s even more annoying is eBay seller geminigreatstore (another repeat offender) had the gall to add their watermark to my pictures. The shamelessness is disgusting.

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    If you’ve been following Polish Police for a while now, you know that I do not take being stolen from lightly. Remember the AllGlam.com debacle that ended with that entire site shutting down?

    And why should I let it pass when it’s so completely wrong? It’s theft, pure and simple.

    Other nail bloggers know this – swatching and blogging is time-consuming. It takes energy to set up your swatching area, take photos, prepare your photos for upload and write about the shades you’ve just swatched. Most of us do this just for the love of it, for our joy of sharing our passion for polish with our readers. And we do this on top of our very demanding day jobs.

    Why should these eBay sellers benefit from our hard work? If they’re charging people exorbitant amounts for polish, don’t they owe it to their customers to at least take photos of the bottles they actually have? Seeing geminigreatstore use my photos to sell Sky Line for $43.99 when it’s still readily available for $30 makes me feel dirty, like I’m being used as an accessory to their crime.

    This eBay theft has been going on for months and whenever I spot my photos being used in listings (or when somebody sends me a message telling me they saw someone using my pics), I send a short, very direct message to the seller asking them to take it down.

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    Sometimes the sellers, like geminigreatstore, ignore me completely.

    Sometimes, they respond quickly. Like this one did.

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    And while I hate what the seller said about “getting it from google images” and “it not having a source” (more on that later), at least s/he responded quickly and positively.

    Which brings us to the message I received from an eBay seller today, the very same message that convinced me to finally write about this whole eBay mess.

    After seeing that eBay seller miss_bootsie had stolen my photos of Chanel Pearl Drop, I sent her this message last night.

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    Today I received two messages from her.

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    I find it funny that while she was so offended by my message, she doesn’t seem to think that she has done anything wrong. I find it laughable too that she thought I was being mean. Seriously, if you want people to be nice to you, don’t steal from them.

    I wasn’t going to reply to her anymore but then I checked the listing again and saw what she did. Yes, she did take my photos down. And you know what she replaced them with? A photo she stole from Ommorphia Beauty Bar.

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    And a photo she stole from The Beauty Look Book.

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    Eugenia and Sabrina – I love those girls, I love their blogs and I will know their nails anywhere.

    While I am sorry that the seller is in the hospital for an operation, I still find her messages ridiculous.

    1. I have never “uploaded” a photo to Pinterest. My images appear there because of Polish Police readers who pin them to their Pinterest boards. Pinterest is a content sharing website, yes, but that doesn’t mean the photos you see there are up for grabs. Here’s a quote from the Pinterest website:

    Pinterest respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects its users to do the same. It is Pinterest’s policy, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, to disable and/or terminate the accounts of users who repeatedly infringe or are repeatedly charged with infringing the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of others.

    2. I haven’t uploaded my images to Photobucket. And I am glad about that because I just read their terms of use and I am disturbed.

    3. And yes, my photos do appear on Google image searches but that doesn’t mean people can just steal them. One quick click will tell you where the image originally came from. Google wasn’t created for lazy eBay sellers to use as a photo source.

    It’s common sense – if it isn’t yours, don’t freaking use it.

    eBay prohibits the use of images that isn’t rightfully owned by the seller.

    According to eBay, sellers “Can’t use someone else’s picture or item description without their permission. If you believe someone else is using your photos or text without your permission, report it to us.”

    Here’s how you can report copyright infringement on eBay. If someone has stolen your images, use this form. I know I will.

    Update:

    Last night, before heading to bed, I sent a message to miss_bootsie. I sent two, actually, because I ran out of characters in the first message. Like I said, I considered not replying to her anymore until I realized that while she had taken my photos down, she was now using photos she had stolen from The Beauty Look Book and Ommorphia Beauty Bar.

    My messages were direct but polite – at least that’s what I thought.

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    But apparently, she now thinks I’m harassing her. And I have “upset her.” She has magically made herself the victim in this scenario. Hilarious. And also annoying.

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    I didn’t just find an eBay photo thief, I also found a drama queen.