Five years on…

March 2006 was when I first officially tried to make a mark of chronicling my thoughts online. This was when Friendster used to be a bustling online hang out of friends. Lynette was the one who introduced me to blogging after, if I remember it right, she distributed her poetry booklet(?) through email (yes she spammed me! LOL! Love you Lynette ;)).

Magpatuloy sa pagbasa

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The Push for a Blogging Association

Blogbastic is on (a very long) hiatus but I am “plurkbastic/twittertastic” in ‘short,’ I am active in microblogging. Microblogging gave a good alternative to a bit time-intensive blogging here at blogbastic (not that I’m complaining, I love writing but I am busy trying to finish my thesis). Microblogs provided me with an avenue where I can post anything about current events here and back home (Got hooked also on instagram lately! You can find my posts here.) However, recent events are provoking me to resurrect Blogbastic! I will roll (hopefully!) those posts in the coming weeks. As I try to slowly blog again (here, that is), I think it is fitting to blog about blogging. This is a way delayed reaction when most of the bloggers are winding down discussing the issue of Willie Revillame, Merci and Marcos’ burial among others (well, old news by the time you read this).

When the buzz about a bloggers association in the Philippines came alive, I decided to just watch the exchanges. After all, I was on blogging “hiatus” anyway and I am really not familiar with all the issues presented. What I know is that the call for a blogging association was reignited when a mainstream journo/columnist revealed that a public relations firm in Manila has a blogger in its roster. The blogger allegedly threatened a restaurant owner of giving it a bad review unless they give in to his/her demand. This incident, as they say, opened a can of worms and gave Pinoy blogging a bad name.

As Ms. Janette explained the vision to have a bloggers association in the Philippines was discussed about two years ago. Who wouldn’t support the idea? There were already groups of bloggers nationwide who formed their local associations anyway. And as pointed out by other bloggers, these bloggers associations are very active that some have regularly sponsored Word Camps and bloggers’ training in their localities or Region. While some associations or informal group persisted some group died naturally. However, I reckon that the purpose of forming a bloc persisted, i.e., promote blogging and support one another technically among others.

Some bloggers had merits in their decision not to join this initiative while others have taken a (very) personal reason not join, which I really pity. I think I have nothing more to add to the issue. If you want to read more, following are some links to some good reads about it as suggested by Jayvee:

I am not aware of any bloggers association here in Australia but I am aware that there was a bloggers’ conference held recently. This is different from the Word Camp of WordPress. My point here is they did not need an association to organise a big event. They were united by the blogosphere. However, the case of the “big bad blogger” should be treated as a red flag for every Pinoy blogger anywhere in the world. We know that one person or group can manipulate laws, regulations, policies or guidelines in the Philippines. So, the idea of a National Bloggers Association might be a good one. I think we need it to protect ourselves and help one if one needs it.

I do question, however, how the “manifesto” was circulated secretly and this does not sit well really to most bloggers, I reckon. While Tonyo explained the move behind this, I think this inadvertently showed that blogging used to be a class A-B activity and the move to ‘circulate’ the manifesto to a ‘chosen few’ implied that those at the C, D or E might muddle the thing. Despite this however, I strongly believe that it is in the best interest of everybody, whether you’re against it or not, to get the ball rolling. As I have pointed out earlier, unless we can trust our lawmakers and/or we are certain that there are laws that can adequately protect bloggers, then certainly we do not need any association that will promote and protect our rights as Pinoy bloggers.

If you agree with me, I believe it is time that you sign up  now. I just did.

Election here and at home

Last Saturday, the electoral district of Willagee had a by-election after its MP, who was the former State Premier, resigned. The campaign and voting went well despite seemingly unnoticed. The campaign mainly consisted of print ads in community papers and distribution of leaflets in letter boxes of residents. If there was some exchanges between the candidates in media outlets, the topics will mainly be on policy concerns and what they can offer. Voting is also compulsory here in Australia, anyone who fails to vote risk paying a fine. I think the fine is to cover the cost of the materials and preparations allocated for each voter. Voting started from 8:00am to 6:00pm by 7:00pm votes have been counted halfway and before 9:00pm the winner was already known.
Magpatuloy sa pagbasa

Lessons learned

As news of an impending health reform is discussed all over Australia, the Philippines is abuzz with the supposedly last State of the Nation Address of President Gloria Arroyo.

This might be a comparison between an apple and an orange but if we look closely to a possible link, one might note the difference in the prevailing attitudes in the politics in both countries. Sure there are cynics  in Australian politics or public but the general action of most Aussie politicians show that they are united in trying to figure out what is best for the country. From saving the economy from the effects of recession to leading the global talk on climate change–be it the government or the opposition. There are downsides but one can’t help but notice the good sides in Australian politics.

Zoom into Philippine politics, save for a few, a number of congressmen are out to bend almost anything to protect, not the people, but themselves. There are would-be presidents who are mum on issues surrounding their pasts and would-be presidents who are trying to be someone they are not. In the August Hall, there might be some discussions on proposed legislation but, most of the time, the proposed legislation would likely be for the benefit of the few or the elite. Result–on the opposition side? Well, instead of focusing on proposing sound legislation, they are on the ‘attack mode’ to quell any action by the government to continue to plunder and corrupt. There are good sides but one can’t help but notice the bad sides of Philippine politics.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer was blunt in noting that if, indeed, this will be President Arroyo’s last term, the legacy that she will leave is a “legacy of corruption.” There were hints that if the charter change (first thought to be decided on through referendum but was later said to be decided on through a constitutional assembly), which the opposition allege was meant to extend Arroyo’s and her cohort’s term, fails then she might run for congress. Sure there is nothing wrong about Arroyo running for another electoral post but if we believe the assessment of Dr. Benjamin Diokno of UP School of Economics (where Arroyo received her PhD), then I think the Philippines has had enough of her. Will she step down? Her speech has some hint that she might not. This might be a good or bad news, remember when she declared in a previous SONA that she will not run for president but decided to run anyway?

There are a number of uncertainties in the Philippines as there are many uncertainties bugging most of the expats here and around the world. For instance the OAV system, one cannot blame that some of us will never participate, some by choice and/or some by the inadequacy of the OAV system. But for the few who will participate, futile as it may be, but it will be an exercise of our rights and stand that we will never be silenced.

One thing that the Philippine government has succeeded to do is to isolate its people. It has isolated its citizenry to fend for itself, be it in health care, housing or even the basic daily needs. If there are those who will doubt that most Filipinos are lazy and should be working on something for their country instead, they are mistaken. We’ve done our part and we are continually doing so, however, some life principles such as give and it will be given just never becomes a reality.

Call me a pessimist but I do hope that there’s a miracle round the bend.

OAV Initiative Updates (UPDATED)

I was about to update some of you about the OAV initiative here in Perth when Noelle inquired on how we were doing here. Well here it goes.

At this stage, I was able to coordinate with the consul general here in Perth. While they were helpful in some way, I’m not sure if the OAV registration is something of a priority based on what the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has been stating. I think it is common for our embassies anywhere to claim that there has been an intensive campaign to reach more Filipinos to register for the OAV when there’s hardly any campaign at all, save for a few maybe (or is it just a PR stunt?).

As Noelle complained, even the consul general in Melbourne is at lost as to how the OAV will be set up. Well, I hope that by the time we’ll be able to reach our 200 mark target here in Perth, the Philippine Embassy in Canberra will know what to do. And we will be able to participate and will not be a mere spectator to the history-making election next year.

Despite the expected automation of the election system next year, there are some Pinoys here that have begged not to register out of frustration in the electoral system some of them expressing doubt whether the vote they will cast here will definitely be counted for their candidate.

The future might still be uncertain despite the possible improvement in the electoral system in the Philippines, but for some of us away from home, we could not just sit down and watch our countrymen just slug it out themselves, we want in and yes while there might just be a few that will be voting away from home. We will be part of election history next year, we will be counted.

Blogbastic

UPDATE: GMAnews.tv has a good primer re the OAV registrations. It’s interesting to note that the PDF file containing the comprehensive research re the OAV was from an ABS-CBNnews.com researcher. 🙂 There are calls to extend the 31 August deadline of OAV registration to a later date–let’s hope that this call will be granted. GMAnews.tv is calling for Pinoys abroad/expats to air their stories re OAV registrations. So, I think this is a good opportunity for us to tell our side of the story and let them know that much of the hyped public awareness on the OAV is dud. Email your stories at pinoyabroad@gmanews.tv

The war begins and so does the blogging challenge

As the Pangandamans and the Dela Paz’s trade suit, Hamas and Israel trade rockets with increasing number of civilian casualties. This is the analogy that first came to my mind after being a part of Philippine blogging history. It is an off-tangent analogy but I was wondering what’s next after blogging passionately and in support of a fellow blogger? There are bigger issues in society such as the Gaza conflict, the financial crisis, corruption and the Philippine Cha-Cha.

This is not a post that concedes that the blogging exercise in support of the Dela Paz’s was futile–we rattled Malacañan and highlighted the power of blogging. I am proud to be part of the bloggers that rallied behind victims of injustice. The Golfgate event of Antipolo showed the unique society that the blogosphere has created wherein there is hardly a delineation between the coño and the masa.

When a member of the blogosphere receives injustice, there is no distinction on his/her social status, his/her background and sometimes some of us are guilty of jumping into the issue without looking at the other side of the story. We’ve read about how to blog responsibly and I believe most of us did blogged responsibly in this case and we were vindicated as evidence surfaced of what really happened that fateful day (but of course, I’m not pre-empting the courts but in the public eye, it was inevitable for the Pangandaman to look like a red-faced liar).

As I was writing this post, I read Carlos Conde’s take on the event. He was spot on in highlighting the power of blogging. As he wrote as follows:

Today, blogging, apart from being both a narcissistic and cathartic exercise of self-expression among millions, is a potent information tool. News organizations use it to complement their journalism (take note: complement, not supplant). Activists use it to promote their cause. Victims use it to right a wrong.

We were able to highlight an injustice in this case, however, blogger and journalist Carlos expounded and challenged not only blogger Bambee but all Pinoy bloggers that there are other issues that warrant the same outrage that was exhibited. As he explained:

I have not seen the same level of outrage in the blogosphere over the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, of the atrocity done to Remegio Saladero Jr. and the hundreds of human-rights victims in the Philippines as we have witnessed in the Pangandaman incident.

While others might be fed-up with the issue and with due respect to the Dela Paz’s (OK and the Pangandamans), this is a lesson learned for bloggers that with the acknowledged power of this medium we are responsible to direct it to drum-up interest to other social issues such as the killing of children in Gaza, the continued greed at Wall Street, the blind eye of the presidency (it’s up to you to choose whose president I’m referring to) on corruption among other things.

As a comic cliche goes… with great power comes great responsibility. So, use it wisely.

Blogbastic