The Brian Gorrell case: Blogging as a tool to get 'justice'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 02 2008 12:11 PM | Updated as of Apr 02 2008 08:11 PM

By GIGI GRANDE
ABS-CBN Australia News Bureau

The home of Brian Gorrell sits in the middle of a rain forest, several hundred kilometers from Sydney. Roads are narrow, sometimes bumpy. But once inside the property, the views are breathtaking. His three-bedroom home overlooks a pool and 30 acres of land.

It’s Sunday afternoon and Gorrell is lounging by the pool with a couple of friends. Cold drinks in hand, he wears a big smile, laughs a lot and appears worry-free. It’s an image not usually associated with the Australian blogger. His mood shifts down a notch when he explains why he’s inevitably moving out of this property.

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"I owned part of this property for 5 years. But when I decided to move to the Philippines, I sold my share to the other owner for one hundred thousand dollars. I turn over the keys to the new owners in June," says Gorrell.

What happened to the money from the sale of the property is the subject of Gorrell’s blog that’s captivated readers from all over the world since it was created four weeks ago.

Swindled
Gorrell’s popular blog centers on his Filipino ex-boyfriend, a society columnist and prominent figure of Manila’s party-set who allegedly swindled him of seventy thousand dollars.

He says he was made to believe the money was going towards opening a restaurant in Makati and a tour booking company. It was too late when he found out there was no restaurant.

"I know how I found myself in this predicament. Because I fell in love. But I shouldn’t be punished for falling in love," he says.

Gorrell met his now-notorious ex-boyfriend when he traveled to Manila on holiday in 2006. He was a guest at the Manila Peninsula, his soon-to-be lover was there for a photo shoot.

"He lays it on thick. He sure knows how to tell you what you want to hear," recalls Gorrell.

Days later, the two ran into each other in Boracay. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Gorrell, a businessman who owned a flower shop in Sydney and a farm where he grew flowers and exotic bamboo, lost no time selling his share of the business to his partner.

By mid-2007 he had relocated to Boracay. He says his decision to move was not entirely because of his new boyfriend. "I fell in love with the Philippines. Its not difficult to do. People are beautiful."

Starts a blog
Months later, he was back in Australia, alone and with hardly a dollar to his name. "I want to get my money back. I went to start a blog because nothing else has worked and that’s basically how my blog came to be."

His blog has since become somewhat of an internet sensation. If readers keep coming back to Gorrell’s blog, its because it reads like a tele-novela.

Here he also makes allegations of drug use, philandering, and freeloading against his ex-boyfriend’s friends, which include media personalities and scions of wealthy families. "I know the information first hand. Being at the parties. Seeing these people do what I’ve accused them of doing. I’ve been there. I’ve been in the middle of it. I’ve been in the middle of the muck."

Gorrell explains why he’s pouring all his energy into this cyberspace fight. "I’m 38 years old, I’ve had HIV for 8 years, it’s not going away. You have to take many pills. Every day. But it’s not only the medication that costs a lot of money. Your diet has to change, you make many trips to the hospital. This blog is my last attempt to stay alive with dignity, with self esteem, a sense of purpose in life. All these are, unfortunately for me, connected to that money."

Surprisingly, Gorrell has not lost his sense of humor in spite of his ordeal. Referring to the entries in his blog, he says, "I’m not into spell check, everyone knows that,"

Blogging trends
Blogging has emerged as a powerful source of information in recent years because of its potential to reach millions of people with internet access. Its credibility as a source may sometimes be put to question, but there’s no doubt it’s proven its influence in politics and business. In the entertainment industry, it can make or break a celebrity.

Gorrell says he’s using his blog to get justice. "Justice is having my money back."

It’s too early to tell if he’ll succeed. But if he does, his blog will be yet another testimony to the power of blogging.

According to web tracking tool "Site Meter", Gorrell’s blog has had a total of almost two million page views since it was created on March 4. Traffic is predicted to hit over three million page views in the next month.

The numbers are impressive for a personal blog. So impressive it has attracted the attention of Google.

"Google approached me and said, ‘we noticed you have a high amount of traffic in your website and we’ve also explored its content’. It just made sense to put ads on my blog. It’s no skin off my back to have the ads," he says. "I’ve had to pay my lawyers 1,800 dollars so far with this issue so if those ads can generate a bit of money, I’m quite happy."

Canada on his mind
Gorrel spends about five hours a day responding to e-mail and writing entries for his blog. The rest of the day, he tends to the farm. He’s preparing it for the new owners who arrive in three months. "I am not earning an income. The work I do is therapy more than anything. It takes my mind off the fact that I am actually truly broke. I do plan on working when I move to Canada."

In a few months, Gorrell intends to return to his native Canada. But he says the blog is not shutting down until he gets his money back.

More scandals
The blog is far from losing steam. Gorrell has told readers he’s preparing to post damaging information involving the recent death of a socialite who was heir to a multi- million peso retail empire. "Murder is going to appear in my blog soon. Well I’m not going to use the word murder. But people are not being told the truth. And I’m having a hard time with that."

Gorrell says he’s willing to cooperate with Philippine authorities for as long as they question him in Australia. "I’ve heard it first hand from one of the people involved so when I come out in my blog and suggest what I’ve been told, it’s tricky. I don’t have this conversation tap ed. I don’t have it on video. But I have it here. (Gorrell points to his head) I know the truth. And it’s a hard one."

Clearly, Gorrell has no intention of backing off. He’s all fired up. He’s organizing documents to support his allegations. He’s networking with Filipinos around the world who support his cause.

But just for today, he’s enjoying the warm weather and a dip in the pool. Even creators of sensational blogs need a day off.

(First posted: 4/2/2008 1:05:08 AM)