Category Archives: media

The case of the disappearing load

Majority of cellphone users in the Philippines are prepaid owners. We experience from time to time the disappearance of our loads; we always receive unsolicited text ads sent by mobile phone companies; and we always thought that setting expiration dates in prepaid cards is legal since it has been implemented ever since texting became a popular activity among Filipinos. The extrajudicial load disappearances are no longer mysterious today.

When Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile delivered a privilege speech about how his load became a victim of dagdag-bawas, majority of Filipinos empathized with him since they also experience the same thing everyday.

Congress, through the ongoing public hearings, can address the following issues:

1. Determine once and for all the legality of imposing an expiration date on prepaid loads. Prepaid cards last 2-3months. But e-loads, which are popular in our communities, are only valid for 1-3 days.

2. Regulate or eliminate the sending of unsolicited text ads to cellphone subscribers. These ads, which entice subscribers to download multimedia icons, are sent almost every hour, sometimes twice every hour, everyday. Subscribers are charged when they read these ads.

3. Set up a mechanism (like a hotline) to properly address customer complaints regarding the loss of their load balance, dropped calls, delayed messages, text ads.

There are two types of cellphone users: Those who check their load balance from time to time – again if you check your balance, the subscriber is charged; and those who do not check the remaining value of their load.

For those who experience load disappearances, subscribers behave in different ways:

1. There are those who do nothing about the loss of their loads. Majority of subscribers behave this way. They are the silent majority. They disregard the loss of P10, P15 since they think they are just small amounts. But if they add up the losses in a month, the peso equivalent of the stolen value becomes higher.

2. There are many frustrated subscribers who don’t know where to lodge their complaint. They end up buying a new prepaid load.

3. There are subscribers who blame themselves for the loss of their loads. They think it has to do with their old cellphone units. Some replace their SIM cards.

4. There are subscribers who assert their right by demanding the replacement of their disappeared load. Only few are aware that subscribers can call the customer service units of mobile phone companies to inquire about their lost load. But calling customer service can be time-consuming, tiresome, and inconvenient.

One of our staff members lost P50 load. a few weeks ago She called the customer service demanding the return of her disappeared load. She was asked to provide her name, address, and cell phone unit. The customer service agent repeatedly asked the caller about the texting and calling record of the complainant for the past 24 hours. The call lasted for more than ten minutes. After 6 hours, the disappeared load was restored. The following day her load balance mysteriously disappeared again. She no longer called customer service again.

There is one subscriber who has been patiently and diligently calling customer service regarding his disappearing load. In fairness to the mobile phone company, his complaint is always acknowledged. But during his last call, his disappeared load was no longer restored because of his frequent calls. Lesson: Don’t always complain. Pero paano kapag talagang laging nawawala ang load mo?

This representation has filed a counterpart resolution in the Lower House to Senate Resolution 1120 that aims to investigate the questionable services provided by some of our telecommunication companies.

A few hours ago I attended a Senate hearing which tackled the speech of Senate President Enrile. Among the invited guests were representatives from major telecommunication companies and the National Telecommunications Commission. Consumer group Txtpower was also in the hearing.

Globe recognized that it has been receiving complaints about the vanishing loads. They received 59 complaints this year, 77 last year, 32 in 2007 and 70 in 2006. Unbelievably and unrealistically small figures! On the other hand, Smart confirmed that they are receiving 100 complaints everyday, or roughly 35,000 a year, about the problem of the vanishing loads.

The NTC has reportedly set-up a hotline since 2002. They claimed that most of the complaints involve requests for assistance on stolen cellphones. For example, only 206 complaints on vanishing loads were registered last year while the total number of complaints was 11,917.

Senators were brutally frank during the public hearing. They warned that Congress can always revise the franchise awarded to telcos if the latter will not rethink their business practices. There will be another hearing next week.

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Interpellation

Last Thursday I rose to interpellate Manila Rep. Benny Abante, the principal sponsor of the Right of Reply bill. I focused my interpellation on the inclusion of websites and other electronic devices in the measure. I also inquired about the bill’s impact on the campus press. The interpellation lasted 46 minutes. It was my first time to interpellate a fellow member in the House of Representatives.

Section 1 of HB 3306 (Right of Reply) states, “All persons natural or judicial who are accused directly or indirectly of committing, having committed, or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to charges or criticisms published in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites or through any electronic device.”

The sponsor confirmed that even non-news websites are included in the scope of the bill. This is dangerous. This means even non-journalists will be affected by the measure. This is bad news for bloggers. Sakop din dito ang mga email, social network sites, at mga online forum.

The sponsor mentioned that there is nothing to fear if websites are included in the bill since comments, replies, and exchange of views are already common in the internet. I agreed with the sponsor but I added that publication of comments and replies is voluntary. A blogger can always refuse to upload a statement or reply of a reader. The Right of Reply bill will change the way we maintain our personal websites. It will alter our internet reading habit. It will change the behavior of bloggers, online forum commenters, and website readers as they relate to one another.

I also emphasized the difficulty of identifying news websites in the internet because of the changing media landscape. I spoke about the rise of the new media which is already recognized by many scholars as the future of journalism. I warned the sponsor that the Right of Reply bill might become the first law in the country which would be used to harass, silence, or censor dissident bloggers or website owners.

The sponsor is in favor of creating a regulatory board to oversee the local content of the cyberspace.

I forgot to ask the sponsor about the impact of the bill on anonymous websites. Will the Right of Reply law empower the government to compel a website owner or company to divulge the account information of anonymous website members or users? Gagayahin ba natin ang China?

Texters beware

I asked the sponsor what kind of electronic devices are included in the bill. He mentioned mobile phones. Mag-ingat sa pagforward ng mga text; kasama yan sa Right of Reply.

Even iPods and other mp3 players are included. Don’t forget e-book readers.

I honestly do not know how the government will implement the Right of Reply law if cell phones and other electronic devices are to be included in its scope. The sponsor said these tiny concerns will be solved once the government drafts an Implementing Rules and Regulation document.

The sponsor is also welcoming amendments to improve the bill.

Campus press

Section 3 of the bill states, “The reply of the accused or criticized shall be published or broadcast not later than one day after the reply shall have been delivered to the editorial office of the publication concerned…”

I reminded the sponsor that student organs would not be able to fulfill this legal requirement. There are no campus papers which have a daily circulation. The sponsor replied that the amended version of the bill (a so-called watered-down version of the bill exists somewhere) would allow editors to publish the reply on the next issue of their paper. Pero paano kapag ang nagkaroon ng kontrobersiya ay ang huling isyu ng publikasyon? Pupuwersahin pa rin ba ang susunod na editorial board na maglaan ng espasyo para sa dinedemandang tugon ng taong nagsampa ng kaso? Ang gulo!

Still on the amended version: The new version states that the reply will be published subject to availability of space and airtime. This is not applicable for websites.

Advice

I heard members of the Minority suggesting that we should move to recommit the bill. The committee should first finalize the document. Naguguluhan kami kung ang tinatalakay ba sa plenary ay ang original document o yung tinatawag nilang amended document.

The amended bill is still unacceptable. The country does not need a Right of Reply law, even if it is a watered-down, toothless measure. Only publishers who are cozy with the supreme powers of the land are not afraid of this Right of Reply proposal.

I have to reiterate that the Right of Reply bill which was already passed by the Senate would not just affect journalists and other mainstream media practitioners. The bill involves practically everyone: journalists, bloggers, facebookers, texters, iPod users. We should exercise our Right to Reject this unnecessary, and perhaps unconstitutional measure.

postblogism

Are there individuals or groups which use Friendster as an online platform for political campaigns? Very few or none. The Friendster account of Senator Trillanes comes to my mind. But there seems to be no advocacy or political group which has maximized Friendster for their virtual campaigns. Which is good.

But here comes Facebook. Facebook is a better social media tool and more popular than Friendster. Everyday, hundreds if not thousands of individuals and groups are creating Facebook applications for their various causes, campaigns, interests, events. Everyday, Facebook users are sharing their pictures, thoughts, plans, and conversations with their fellow Facebook friends. It is both funny and mysterious to know everything about what our friends are doing or thinking.

Because of its limited functions, Friendster is used mainly to establish connection with friends and relatives. On the other hand, Facebooking is more than just for renewing friendships on the internet. Blessed souls are using Facebook to announce rallies, upload pictures of rallies, and create online account of advocacy groups. Become a fan of a political group. Support a virtual campaign. Read progressive articles and critical notes of activist leaders.

To paraphrase Eduard Bernstein: The final goal, no matter what it is, is nothing; Facebook is everything. It seems that things, individuals, causes, and events that matter need to be Facebooked. Everyday life is transformed into a Facebook wall. Experience becomes a Facebook page. It is ῢber cool to be on Facebook.

Susan Sontag’s famous essays on photography can help clarify for us our experience with virtual reality. Sontag’s original quote:

“…having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it, and participating in a public event comes more and more to be equivalent to looking at it in photographed form…Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”

That quote can be read today as:

“…having an experience becomes identical with blogging about it, and participating in a public event comes more and more to be equivalent to looking at it in Facebook…Today everything exists to end in the internet.”

Sontag adds that individuals convert and miniaturize their experience into images; individuals continually search for the photogenic. Today we are converting our experience into blog and twitter posts. We search for facebook-able aspects of our lives. A thing is beautiful if it is seen on our Multiply page; the activity is memorable if it is on YouTube; the article is insightful if it received many blog comments on the internet.

Sontag observes that photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention: The person who intervenes cannot record; the person who is recording cannot intervene.

Isn’t blogging (and facebooking as well) an act of non-intervention? The person who intervenes cannot blog; the person who is blogging cannot intervene. To some extent, mobile technology has made it possible for individuals to act and blog at the same time. But it reflects more on the quality of political acts which are popular today and the level of participation of individuals in political interventions. If there is mass unrest; if there is a class-based confrontation of forces, would you encourage the participants to blog (and to Facebook) during the crisis? Would you blog if you are part of an insurrection? Would you tweet if the police is chasing after you? Aba, tumakbo ka muna. But we blog and tweet during rallies because most of the time we organize only small, cute, and media-friendly political actions.

You cannot blog on a moving train, este jeepney caravan for justice and agrarian reform. You cannot blog during a lakbayan. You cannot blog the raging revolution while participating in it. A blogger must know how to stop blogging and lead an attack.

If there is a real political “event” in the city, the history-makers would have little time and perhaps energy to waste on blogging. Between organizing the next day’s rally (or hopefully, welgang bayan) and posting rally pictures on Facebook, which is more urgent?

That activist teachers and leaders can post rally pictures and reflections on Facebook reveal many things: the political event is over (and I who posted the pictures participated in it); the repressive state didn’t feel threatened by the action and so the internet and mainstream media were not censored; the activity created a predictable political impact but not strong enough to alter the disposition of forces in society.

In the film ‘The Last Castle’, Robert Redford who plays a disgraced general belittles the military artifacts collected by a prison warden. He wryly points out that “Any man with a collection like this is a man who’s never set foot on a battlefield. To him a miniball from Shiloh is just an artifact. But to a combat vet, it’s a hunk of metal that caused some poor bastard a world of pain.” Have you encountered bloggers or facebookers who collect “artifacts” but have never set foot on a battlefield? I support this cause, I’m part of that campaign, I’m a fan of that oppressed group, I signed the petition….

Should we celebrate the increasing number of leftist blog and Facebook posts? Yes and no. I already explained before the potential of political blogging. Today let me add this observation: our blogging and facebooking activities can be used by the ruling class to indicate and to preach a believable state of normalcy in society. Ofcourse in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society like the Philippines, there is no such thing as a state of normalcy. There is always a state of war. But the educated segments of society can be distracted by seducing them with the freedom to blog and to facebook. As they enter virtual reality, they would probably fail to notice the reality of class struggle in the offline society.

How and why?

Sontag believes that “A capitalist society requires a culture based on images. It needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anaesthetize the injuries of class, race, and sex.”

Sontag adds that “The production of images also furnishes a ruling ideology. Social change is replaced by a change in images. The freedom to consume a plurality of images and goods is equated with freedom itself.”

Let me end this post with a quote from Antonio Negri about the worst form of all utopias:

“To think that technology rather than the act of human transformation can eliminate classes is the worst of all utopias. The fact is that social movements can never be crystallized, can never become institutions and can never be reduced to a technical apparatus.”

Talking points: Social Media and Activism

Bahagi ng aking presentasyon sa UP Manila, Hulyo 25, 2008.

1. Kanina ay napakinggan natin ang tunay na kalagayan ng bansa. Pinaliwanag ng mga naunang ispiker ang mga dahilan kung bakit kailangang aktibong makisangkot sa pulitika. Ang tatalakayin ko naman ay kung ano ang iba’t ibang porma ng pakikilahok sa kampanya para sa pagbabago.

2. Marami ang naniniwala na dapat gawing mapanlikha ang aktibismo. Creative activism, ika nga. Pero sa tingin ko eto ay double redundant. Sa totoo lang, ang aktibismo ay isang malikhaing gawain. Para yang creative writing. Sabi ni NVM Gonzales, ang pagsusulat ay isang mapanlikhang proseso. Hindi na kailangang sabihing creative ang writing. Ganun din ang aktibismo. Kailangang laging maging malikhain upang maging epektibo ang aktibismo. Kaya minabuti ko na ang pamagat ng aking maikling presentasyon ay Social media and Activism: o ano ang ilan sa mga gamit ng makabagong teknolohiya sa pagsusulong ng mga adhikain.

3. Magpopokus ako sa dalawa lamang: cell phone at internet. Ang cell phone at internet ay hindi lamang pang sex scandal, showbiz at pornograpiya. May gamit din ito para sa aktibismo. Unahin natin ang cell phone. 60 million cell phone subscriber sa bansa, nagpapadala ng 200 million text araw-araw. Karamihan ng mga Pilipino ay nagtetext. Kahit ata kinder may cell phone. Kaya nga ang number one consumer product ngayon ay hindi na coke, sigarilyo at beer; kundi cell phone load. Noong 1998, hindi namin alam kung ano ang text. Beep ng beeper ang alam namin. Noon, kabisado pa namin ang landline ng mga kaklase namin.

4. Napatunayan ng mga Pilipino na magagamit ang cell phone sa maraming paraan, kahit sa pulitika. Hindi tayo ang texting capital of the world, China pa rin ang wagi. Pero kinikilala ng mundo ang ambag ng mga Pilipino sa mobile activism. Halimbawa:
– Texting at Edsa Dos
– Text jokes
– Text tax 2004
– Hello Garci ringtone

Tayo rin ang nanguna sa mobile banking. Ginaya tayo ng ibang bansa. Naging mahalaga na rin ang texting para sa mga OFWs. Dahil mura at madali, malaking tulong ito sa komunikasyon at kahit sa pagpapadala ng pera para sa mga magkakahiwalay na pamilyang Pilipino.

Basahin: Txtpower, Texting and activism, Message Sent. Basahin din ang artikulong sinulat ni Tonyo Cruz, Texting and other tools of a people in revolt. Mahusay na pinaliwanag ni Cruz ang progresibong paggamit ng cellphone at internet noong Edsa Dos.

5. Sa ibang bansa naman. Nagagamit ang texting sa South Africa para i-monitor ang kalusugan ng mga AIDS victim. Nalalaman ng mga doktor ang mga bagong gamot o bakuna sa pamamagitan ng text. Sa Syria, pinapadalhan ng text ang mga Iraqi refugees para sa detalye ng distribusyon ng mga pagkain at damit. Epektibo ang texting sa relief and rescue mission tuwing may mga sakuna sa Indonesia at Peru. Sa Argentina, sinuportahan ng 1.5 milyon tao ang Forest Law sa pamamagitan ng pagpapadala ng text. Kung may online petition, sa kanila naman ay mayroong text petition.

Basahin: Wireless Technology for Social Change.

6. Marami pang potensiyal ang texting: sa kalusugan, pagtatanggol ng kalikasan at edukasyon. May literary award na ata sa Pilipinas para sa mga tula-text. Sa India nagagamit ito para sa literacy campaign. Magiging mas marami ang gamit ng cell phone sa hinaharap dahil sa mobile internet. Ibig sabihin, pwede kang magsurf sa web kahit saan, kahit kailan gamit ang cell phone.

Basahin: MobileActive, Share Ideas.

7. Kaya pag-usapan na natin ngayon ang internet. Ayon sa Universal McCann Report Wave 3 report (March 2008), sa Pilipinas ay mayroong:

• 3.7 million active internet users (sa tingin ko konserbatibo ang numerong ito)
• 3.3 million read blogs
• 2.3 million bloggers
• 3.14 million uploaded photos
• 2.2 million have uploaded videos
• 3.6 million watch video clips online.
• 2.3 million have downloaded a podcast

8. Kung pag-uusapan ang internet sa Pilipinas, hindi pwedeng hindi mabanggit ang Friendster. Bakit ba baliw na baliw tayo sa Friendster? May ipapakita akong mapa ng mundo tungkol sa paggamit ng mga social networking site sa buong mundo. Malinaw na ang internet ay hindi lamang para sa Friendster.

Marami na atang pag-aaral hinggil sa paggamit ng mga Pilipino sa Friendster. Noong nakaraang halalan, maraming pulitiko ang gumawa ng friendster account. Si Pangulong Arroyo, ang daming friendster account, karamihan o halos lahat ay mga pekeng account na ginawa ng mga pilyong Pilipino. Hindi kaya ito ay isang paraan ng pagpapakita ng galit kay Arroyo? Kailangang pa itong pag-aralan.

Si Sen. Trillanes hindi nakapagkampanya pero ginamit ng kanyang mga tagasuporta ang internet para kumuha ng suporta sa mga tao. Noong napanood natin ang isang nakakainsultong eksena sa Desperate Housewives, libu-libo agad ang pumirma sa online petition na humihingi ng apology sa ABC network. Mabilis ang aksiyon ng TV company.

9. Interesante ang Cute Cats Theory ni Ethan Zuckerman. Para sa kanya, ang mga nalilikhang software sa internet ay nagagamit para sa mga karaniwang hilig natin, tulad ng paglalagay ng litrato ng ating mga pusa sa internet, at higit sa lahat, nagagamit para sa aktibismo.

Mahalagang punto sa Web 2.0: nabibigyan tayo ng pagkakataon na lumikha ng content. Hindi na lang tayo simpleng mambabasa; kundi nag-aambag ng materyal na pwedeng mabasa, mapanood, mapakinggan ng buong mundo.

10. Para magkaroon kayo ng ideya kung paano pa nagagamit ang internet para sa aktibismo, heto ang isang mapa. Popular ngayon ang Twitter at Facebook, hindi lang dahil sila ay libre at madaling gamitin; kundi napapakinabangan ng mga aktibista. Para sa aktibistang gamit ng Twitter – basahin ito, ito, at ito. Para naman sa Facebook, magandang basahin ang artikulong ito. Gusto kong idagdag ang paggamit sa Egypt ng Facebook upang ilunsad ang isang welga.

11. Epektibo ang mga mashup. Ang Google Map at Google Earth ay ginawa hindi lamang para hanapin ang bahay ng mga artista. Sa Bahrain, pinakita ang di-pantay na distribusyon ng lupa (Pwede ito para sa kampanyang GARB ng mga magsasaka). Sa Kenya, ang mapa ay ginagamit upang iulat ang kaguluhan sa mga komunidad. Sa Zimbabwe, ginamit ang mapa sa pagmonitor ng eleksiyon. Una akong nabilib sa mashup nang makita ko ang Tunisian Prison Map (Pwede rin ito gamitin para malaman ng publiko ang lokasyon ng mga political detainee sa Pilipinas). Pwede rin ang mashup para sa pagtatanggol ng kalikasan: tingnan ito at ito.

12. Marami pang pwedeng gawin sa internet. Basahin ang Blogs for a Cause. Tiyak may kanya-kanya kayong naiisip kung paano magagamit ito sa aktibismo. Huwag lang natin kalimutan ang ilan sa mga limitasyon ng teknolohiya:

– Una, maliit pa rin ang bilang ng may access sa internet sa bansa. Mas malaki pa rin ang impluwensiya ng mainstream media;

– Huwag nating ipagkamali na ang problema ng mga Pilipino ay kakulangan ng pambili ng cell phone load at Apple Macbook. Ang batayang kahilingan pa rin ng mga Pilipino ay pagkain, bahay at katarungan;

– Ang teknolohiya ay nagagamit sa mabubuti at masasamang paraan. Karamihan pa rin sa mga kumikitang website ay mga porn site. Kahit ang You Tube at cell phone video naaabuso; halimbawa, canister scandal sa Cebu.

– Nabanggit ko kanina ang pagkakataong binibigay sa tao na lumikha ng materyal sa internet. May panganib dito. Pwedeng maabuso ito ng mga kriminal, sinungaling at mga terorista. Karaniwan ang reklamo ng mga guro sa mga maling impormasyon na mababasa sa Wikipedia.

– Kilalanin ang negatibong epekto ng teknolohiya sa indibidwal, at maging sa pag-aaral ng mga estudyante. Napapahina din ng teknolohiya ang kolektibong pagkilos. Napapatingkad ang indibidwalistang ugali ng kabataan. Sa YM pwede maging invisible ang isang user; hindi siya makikita ng kanyang mga kaibigan. Ayaw siguro pa-istorbo. Ganun din kaya ang aktitud natin sa mga nakikita nating problema sa lipunan: mas pipiliin nating maging invisible? Kunwari wala tayong napansin na mali? (Basahin: Kabataan para sa Bayang Progresibo, Politics of spectacle).

13. Kaya, People Power pa rin. Gamitin ang teknolohiya para isulong ang bagong People Power.

Media and human rights

Links: New pictures in my webshots album, here and here. A religious issue as diversion in Indonesia. Robbers using children in Brunei. Social inequality in Thailand.

Human rights reporting was better during the Marcos years.

This was asserted by a TV news editor during a recent media forum on human rights in the Philippines. What was more surprising was the fact that nobody in that room full of veteran journalists disputed the opinion of the senior editor.

What could be the basis of this harsh judgment? Perhaps the minimal media coverage of human rights issues compared to other more popular topics, like Gabby Concepcion and product endorsements of senators. Underreporting of torture could be another reason. Abusive journalists – those who beat suspects and those who stage-manage brutal scenes inside a police post – are giving Philippine Press a bad reputation.

But are these reasons enough to claim that human rights reporting was better during the Marcos era? Is it fair to insist that the style of human rights reporting during that period should still be applied today? Veteran media practitioners should answer these questions.

I have a different opinion. Many journalists are indeed guilty of sacrificing truth and ethics for higher ratings, vanity and money. But I have to cite the positive contribution of media in highlighting the widespread human rights violations in the country, especially under the Arroyo regime. Media should be credited for promoting awareness and interest about the shocking human rights abuses inflicted on activists and other critics of the state. Consistent media reports on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances were instrumental in developing an international campaign to force the government to act on these dastardly crimes against humanity.

The result was swift. The “murderous” Arroyo regime was put on the defensive. The number of human rights abuses declined. Human rights became a national issue once again.

The public became familiar with the terms extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearances and to a certain extent, Writ of Amparo. A decade ago, only few would have appreciated the political relevance of these words.

But a cynic may counter: Why praise the media for doing its work? Isn’t the media mandated by law to inform the public about the extraordinary high number of political massacres, assassinations and abductions in the country?

The answer to these inquiries is also simple: Media could have chosen to ignore these stories. They could have preferred not to write about the senseless killings of activists. But they made a brave decision. They reported these unpopular stories. They made Jonas Burgos and his mother the icons of human rights advocacy. The public is still interested about Karen Empeño and Sheryl Cadapan partly because the media is willing to join the search for these missing youth activists.

Writing about human rights is dangerous in this part of the world. New York Times correspondent Carlos H. Conde notes that “human rights and torture are subjects that can emasculate the journalist.” A writer can be called a destabilizer or a communist sympathizer if he/she does not subscribe to the government position. In short, human rights reporting offers few rewards but huge risks. That is why I have to admire the persistence of media in exposing the human rights atrocities perpetrated by state agents.

But why is there a perception about media’s failure to report human rights adequately? Perhaps the public cannot separate the weaknesses of media as a whole (dependence on corporate money, sensational news reporting) and the state of human rights reporting in the country. We apply the negative criticism on media in general to belittle the quality of human rights journalism.

I have another theory. Media has failed to improve the quality of discourse on human rights. Human rights was treated as an ordinary subject requiring traditional news reporting. News stories on human rights contained the elements of basic journalism: Who was killed/abducted/tortured? Who are the suspects? When, where and how did it happen?

But some very important questions were left out: Why was the crime committed? Why are there rampant human rights violations in the country? Why has nobody been prosecuted and punished for violating the human rights of the poor?

Mainstream media reported the crimes and other human rights abuses. But it failed to sufficiently explain the roots of the problem. The public was informed, but not educated about human rights issues.

The media satisfied the public urge to know the number of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The public was bombarded with gruesome visual and numerical details of human rights violations.

But the media citizens were not given adequate information on how to be part of the campaign to stop human rights violations in the country. The effect is disturbing: People are angry over the impunity killings but they are clueless on how to stop these crimes. Hence, they feel powerless.

Media critics in the United States are using the term “green fatigue” to describe the condition when “people are too overwhelmed by the command to be ‘green’ to do much about it anymore.”

Is there a “human rights fatigue” in the country brought about by too much dull human rights reporting? Since people are not told to do something about human rights abuses, they do nothing.

The media should learn something from the judiciary. Appalled by too many human rights abuses in the country, the Supreme Court promulgated the Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data. If the Supreme Court acted like the media, it could have been content in issuing an order calling for the quick resolution of human rights cases in the lower courts. But it did more than that. The Supreme Court recognized the need to implement bold measures to address the rising number of human rights violations in the country.

Unlike the Supreme Court, mainstream media preferred to confront the problem of human rights abuses by being traditional. Media could have done more. There was an opportunity to implement a media version of an amparo: Human rights education in the newsroom. A new internal writing guideline or media ethics on human rights reporting.

Maybe we are asking too much. We cannot ask media to solve all our problems. They are after all, mere messengers of truth. But can we at least agree that the protection of human rights requires extraordinary effort on the part of everybody, including the mighty media?

Related entries:

Impunity
In other words
Political words
Media vs government

Blog habits

There are bloggers who are satisfied in re-publishing articles written by other persons. This is not my style. As much as possible, I post original articles which I want to share to the world.

In this blog, there are few url links in the content page. Usually, I include url links at the beginning or end of an article. Too many url links disturb the flow of reading. I want readers to finish reading the whole article first before encouraging them to read related topics. In the preface of the bestseller Revolt of the Masses, Teodoro Agoncillo explained that he preferred endnotes over footnotes so that readers will not be distracted while reading the book. Somehow, I am guided by this thinking.

In this blog, there are few links, widgets in the sidebar. When I was a newbie blogger, I was always looking for something to “decorate” my blog with numerous widgets and blog applications. Later, I realized this was very trivial. Content is more important. If your articles are interesting, original or relevant, people will notice your blog (“If you build it, they will come,” hehe).

I am satisfied with the traffic generated by my blog. Although in 2004 and 2005, I was anxious to increase the number of readers of my blog. I was always bloghopping to encourage bloggers to visit my blog. I was posting blog articles in friendster bulletin.

Now I am no longer much interested in promoting my blog in social networking sites, message boards and e-groups. This blog generates modest hits but most of my readers have read my articles in other popular sites: Yehey (a leading Philippine-based web portal), Global Voices (one of the most visited blogs in the world) and UPI-Asia.

In this blog, there are few pictures. I maintain a separate online photo album. I know readers today are more visual; they need pictures so that they will understand the issues better. But this is not my priority. I want to emphasize again: content is more important. I want my readers to spend some time in this blog to learn new topics and to be familiar with my insights. My goal is not to entertain.

I am not a liveblogging practitioner. I admire livebloggers. We need these disciplined, innovative, and fast bloggers. These bloggers improve citizen journalism. But I am an advocate of slow blogging. I am a slow blogger. I do not often discuss headline-grabbing events or scandals. I wait for some days or weeks before I tackle these issues. I wait in order to gather more facts and to ascertain the arguments of different writers.

Besides, reacting to current national issues is not simply limited to blogging. Direct political intervention should be prioritized. And this is my primary concern. First and last, I am an activist.

I have also learned to recognize that others are more competent and comfortable in writing instant commentaries and sort of press release statements. My preferred task then is to highlight the issues which were overlooked and which I believe should be further discussed in public. My interest is to write about topics which are often ignored by mainstream media.

For example, everybody was commenting about the active student support for Jun Lozada. My tack was to explain why students are suddenly mobilizing support for Lozada and why the latter was perceived as the ideal witness by the middle class. Instead of echoing the press statements of mass organizations, I decided to write about the history of the rice shortage in the country.

Slow blogging has numerous benefits. There is no pressure to write about hot topics. There is no demand to immediately upload government documents, transcripts and interviews. And it gives me the time to research about topics which I really want to highlight.

I have a list of topics which I intend to tackle one by one in my blog. This list is updated continuously. Right now, there are more than 20 issues which are yet to be written and uploaded in my blog. Sometimes it takes a few months before I am able to discuss a listed topic in this blog. For example, I thought of writing my blog habits as early as October of last year.

I rarely reply in the comment section of this blog. Usually, I answer my readers through email. I started moderating comments because of spam. There is another reason why I am not too keen to answer my readers in the blog. I cannot make everybody agree with my opinion. I cannot succeed all the time in making everybody understand my viewpoint, or call it worldview. There is always a counter-argument for every argument. I cannot impose my version of truth on others. And sometimes I do not want to engage sillyheads and arrogant commentators in cyberspace.

Let me quote some writers to illustrate further the problematic. Asked to comment about people reading him as disguised Marxist, anti-Marxist, new conservative, nihilist, anarchist, etc., Michel Foucault replied in this way:

“I’m amused by the diversity of the ways I’ve been judged and classified. Something tells me that by now a more or less approximate place should have been found for me, after so many efforts in such various directions; and since I obviously can’t suspect the competence of the people who are getting muddled up in their divergent judgments, since it isn’t possible to challenge their inattention or their prejudices, I have to be convinced that their inability to situate me has something to do with me.”

Or as David Harvey interepreted Derrida:

“Writers create texts or use words on the basis of all other texts and words they have encountered, while readers deal with them in the same way. Cultural life is then viewed as a series of texts intersecting with other texts, producing more texts. This intertextual weaving has a life of its own. Whatever we write conveys meanings we do not or could not possibly intend, and our words cannot say what we mean.”

Writer Michael Luntley adds some points:

“No matter how much evidence we amass in support of a claim, no matter how convincing the reasons to which we appeal, there is still a gap between all that and a demonstration of the truth of the knowledge claimed…Let’s capture this sense of the lack of foundations for knowledge by saying: there is no mechanical recipe for knowledge.”

Philosopher Slavoj Zizer offers an advice:

“In ordinary language, the truth is never fully established; there is ‘another side’ to every point; every statement can be negated; undecidability is all-encompassing – this eternal vacillation is interpreted only by the intervention of some quilting point. According to Lacan, psychoanalytic discourse aims at breaking this vicious cycle of all-pervasive argumentation…”

PS: Gee, I sounded too postmodernish in the latter part of this article. Well, it’s the weekend. And I’m bored. I want to indulge in some language games and postmodernist claptrap. Let me assure you that I remain (to borrow some words from Dodong) an unrepentant mongista, este maoista.

By the way, I’m using dial-up for my internet connection. And one reason why I decided to write about my blog habits is because I will soon ditch the dial-up in favor of a broadband connection. Since April 1, I started assuming a bigger role in the Global Voices network. I need a fast internet connection.

Related entries:

Ambeth Ocampo
Aguinaldo-Imelda
Blogismo
Blog works
Cybercampaign

Government versus the media

Filipino politicians always boast that the Philippines’ press is one of the freest in Asia. But local media practitioners insist the Philippines continues to be one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.

Censorship is enforced by killing radio broadcasters and hard-hitting journalists in the provinces. Seventy journalists have been killed in the Philippines since democracy was restored in 1986. Ever since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became chief executive seven years ago, 33 journalists have been murdered in the line of duty. Only two cases have resulted in convictions.

Journalists and the public in general are prevented from accessing vital official documents which could pinpoint highly irregular government deals. The citizens’ right to information is violated every time the government suppresses official reports which could prove damaging to the reputation of top leaders of the country. Arroyo disallows Cabinet members from testifying in senate investigations if the latter is spearheaded by opposition lawmakers.

Arroyo’s allies often castigate the media for failing to report the achievements of the administration. The president herself displays her irritation and famous temper every time a reporter asks an embarrassing question. The president only wants to answer questions about her economic programs. Once, she accused a TV reporter of "abetting terrorism" in the country.

The First Family has sued hundreds of journalists for libel. The First Gentleman asserts he is a private citizen whose privacy rights must be respected by the media. After the First Gentleman underwent major heart surgery last year, he withdrew all his libel cases against journalists.

The president dislikes the media’s failure to articulate all of her political and economic agenda. The media resents attempts by the government to suppress and distort the truth.

The brewing conflict between media and government simmered last Nov. 29 when more than 30 rebel soldiers occupied a luxury hotel in the country’s financial district. The media covered the event even when police forces were attacking the rebels inside the hotel. After the capture of all mutineers, police began arresting members of media. The arrested journalists were detained in a police camp. The journalists were "processed" to determine if some of them aided the coup plotters.

Media groups lambasted the handcuffing and detention of journalists. They complained that even during the darkest days of martial law, journalists did not suffer the same degrading treatment at the hands of police enforcers. The government claimed it has the right to arrest anybody who is wittingly or unwittingly obstructing the work of police forces.

Arrested journalists said the police did not inform them of their rights, nor did they inform them of the offences for which they were being arrested. They added that officers ordered them to raise their arms in surrender, despite the fact that tear gas fumes which the police had earlier deployed had yet to dissipate.

The Nov. 29 incident was originally about a failed coup attempt by young idealist soldiers; but it later became an issue of a government attack on press freedom.

Government officials continued to threaten journalists even after the Nov. 29 fiasco. Authorities warned media personnel that they would be arrested if they covered the activities of destabilizers, terrorists and communists. Last month, the Secretary of Justice issued an advisory addressed to the Chief Executive Officers of media networks and press organizations, written in all capital letters, which read:

"Please be reminded that your respective companies, networks or organizations may incur criminal liabilities under the law if any one of your field reporters, news gatherers, photographers, cameramen and other media practitioners will disobey lawful orders from duly authorized government officers and personnel during emergencies, which may lead to collateral damage to properties and civilian casualties in case of authorized police or military operations."

Media groups believe the advisory is meant to "intimidate, cow and muzzle the media" which violates the "most sacred of rights of citizens in a democratic society." They also decided that it is already time to fight back by asking the courts to intervene.

More than a hundred journalists and four media organizations filed two separate suits against officials of the Arroyo administration for "gravely abusing their discretion and making statements that tend to threaten, stifle, intimidate or convey warnings to the press that they will incur possible criminal liabilities or face arrest should they refuse to toe the government line in the coverage of news developments."

In the first suit, the petitioners were immediately granted a temporary restraining order against the respondents "to refrain and desist from issuing threats of arrests or from implementing such threats against plaintiffs and/or members of the media."

The petitioners are demanding P10 million (US$245, 600) in damages. If they win the case, the petitioners said the money would go to a trust fund for the defense of journalists facing legal action related to the performance of their jobs.

Media groups have clarified that they do not wish to be above the law. They will follow government orders as long as these rules do not impinge on their constitutional right to know the truth. Journalists insist they have not been obstructing the duties of police forces. They appeal to the government to respect the right of media groups to decide whether or not to cover an event.

It is fitting that media groups quoted American Chief Justice Hughes in the prefatory statement of their petition to the Supreme Court. Here is how Hughes explained the role of media in examining the conduct of public affairs:

"The greater the importance of safeguarding the community from incitements to the overthrow of our institutions by force and violence, the more imperative is the need to preserve inviolate the constitutional rights of free speech, free press and free assembly in order to maintain the opportunity for free political discussion, to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people and that changes, if desired, may be obtained by peaceful means. Therein lies the security of the Republic, the very foundation of constitutional government."

Related entries:

Messengers in distress
Corruption and the Right to Information
Gonzales siraulo

Message sent

Early campaigning for 2010 polls, my article for Global Voices.

I wrote this article in 2005 after I attended protest activities in Hong Kong during the WTO ministerial meeting.

Years from now, the world will remember the sixth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization in Hong Kong for two things: First, the daring protests of South Koreans. Second, the signing of a vague agreement which obliges developed countries, among other things, to remove their agricultural subsidies by year 2013.

On the other hand, for those who were part of the weeklong protest activities in Victoria Park, WTO-MC6 will be remembered as a sterling example of people’s resistance against imperialism, or what they call today as globalization.

Those who converged in HK were not just snooty trade ministers or corrupt government officials. Outside the HK Convention Center was a motley assembly of people who dislike the idea of turning every human activity into a commodity.

Yes, there were many farmers and workers who marched in the streets of HK. After all, they suffered the most under the WTO regime. But they were not alone in the clamor for the removal of the WTO. They were joined by students, environmentalists, women activists, artists, religious workers, educators and the list goes on.

The protesters were not only demanding better trade policies. They were condemning the attitude of many countries and companies to prioritize profit over people’s welfare. This explains the diverse background of the many groups who came to HK.

Among the interesting consumer groups which provided a refreshing example why the people must resist WTO policies is the Txtpower, a pioneer of mobile activism in the Philippines.

Txtpower enjoined representatives of other countries to share stories of how unfair free trade policies are killing industries and communities. More importantly, Txtpower provided a venue for young activists to discuss how new technologies, particularly mobile phones, can be harnessed as a tool for popular struggles.

This theme of “narrating oppression-brainstorming resistance” is echoed throughout the week in every forum, conference, rally and assembly. Whether it’s a peasant tribunal, youth march or indigenous people’s forum, delegates were not just recounting the sad plight of their people but also their secrets in defeating local enemies.

We were enraged that Sri Lanka wants to privatize its colleges but we were inspired by the brave campaign of students who are opposing this policy. We were appalled that Burma is still controlled by a military junta but hope is alive as long as the struggle for democracy continues in and out of Burma’s borders.

For one week, HK became both a site for exposition of the sins of WTO and a training ground to enhance strategies against rapacious corporate vultures and fascist governments.

No wonder the WTO and HK police became panicky and violent in the last days of the MC6. The people’s protests were getting louder, more organized and innovative.

While the WTO is guilty of destroying the lives of millions of people around the globe, it is also responsible for gathering the widest assembly of rational thinkers and peace lovers who want people to be the center of development planning in each country.

The most significant agreement signed during the WTO-MC6 was sealed in the streets of HK where people of every color, race, language and class forged solidarities against a common enemy. This was the most important message in the WTO-MC6.

Years from now, when we are already victorious, we will recall the events which transpired in HK. We will remember the first steps we took in preventing the commodification of our lives and the fight to make another world possible.

Related entries:

Nannies in HK
Hong Kong trap
Txtpower

Texting as an activist tool

Texting first became popular in the Philippines during the late 1990s when Joseph Estrada was the president of the country. Filipino cell phone users, maximizing the free texting service offered by phone companies, began sending text jokes about the incompetence of Estrada. This proved effective in undermining the credibility of the former president.
Text jokes were subsequently used as a creative form of protest against other notorious public figures, especially politicians. People continued to use texting to express their disenchantment with the policies of the government.

Seven years ago, the historic uprising in Edsa Street which came to be known as People Power II eventually led to the downfall of Estrada. For the first time in Philippine history, texting was recognized as a vital tool for political mobilization. Four days of gatherings, both spontaneous and organized, brought hundreds of thousands of people to Edsa, facilitated by texting.

A few months after People Power II, phone companies announced a plan to charge a fee for every text message sent by cell phone users. This angered Filipino texters. The consumer group Txtpower called for a one-day text boycott in protest to the decision of phone companies. The boycott campaign forced the mobile phone firms to delay their plan.

On August 2004, the government wanted to impose a tax on texting to increase revenues. This could have meant an additional cost for mobile phone subscribers. The group Txtpower enjoined Filipino texters to bombard the Speaker of the House of Representatives with a text message opposing the proposed tax on texting. After a few days, Congress was forced to abandon the proposed measure.

Recently, a government minister revived this proposal to solve the country’s fiscal deficit. A texters’ revolt was launched to defeat the new tax measure. Like in 2004, the government backtracked on its plan after consumers sent angry text messages to government officials.

In June 2005, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was accused of rigging the presidential election results. An audio recording which allegedly contained conversations between the president and an election officer was released to the public. Txtpower transformed the recording into a cell phone ringtone and uploaded it on the Internet. Hundreds of thousands of cell phone owners and Internet users downloaded the ringtone and made it one of the most popular hits in the Philippines that year. For the first time, a cell phone ringtone was recognized as a protest tool.

The threat of a texters’ revolt is forcing cell phone companies to lower text service fees. They have been offering unlimited texting services in response to the clamor for a more affordable and reasonable texting rate. They have not been increasing text rates since government regulators are reluctant to approve higher rates which could enrage the 55 million cell phone subscribers in the Philippines.

Why are cell phones and texting effective and popular tools for social and political mobilization in the Philippines?

The majority of Filipino mobile phone users are familiar with the texting service. There are more cell phone users in the Philippines than landline owners. Texting is convenient to use since it is accessible, less expensive and it can instantly reach an audience of more than 50 million cell phone subscribers.

Texting is already the standard mode of communication among Filipinos. It is widely used even in the remote countryside to connect and reconnect with family and friends. Overseas Filipino workers, now numbering more than 8 million, use texting to maintain close relationships with their loved ones back home.

Political parties, civil society organizations and other non-state actors are using cell phones to spread political messages and sometimes even to organize protest assemblies. Texting facilitates quick dissemination of political activities. Texting is used to improve coordination among political groups.

Political forces seek to mobilize millions of subscribers through virtual campaigns which could range from the sending of text messages, downloading of political ringtones, and forwarding of subversive text quotes. It may be impossible to gather more than 50 million cell phone users in the streets but it is easy to persuade ordinary citizens to send political text messages to their friends.

The great number of anonymous prepaid cell phone users is emboldening citizens to express their true political sentiments. A majority of cell phone owners in the country are availing themselves of the prepaid service since this is cheaper. This also allows political groups and disgruntled citizens, fearful of government reprisals, to send daring political messages through texting, without the risk of revealing their identities.

Another important factor which contributes to the popularity of texting is the relative absence of censorship governing Internet usage and mobile communications in the Philippines. The cheap mobile technology and the freedom enjoyed by Filipino cell phone users enhance the opportunities to use the phones for political activities.

A drawback to the immense popularity of texting as a viable political tool is the persistent recommendation of the government for a mandatory registration of all mobile phone users. Consumer groups believe the proposed registration may hamper the freedom of expression and the right to organize in the country. So far, this proposal is not yet implemented but it remains one of the anti-crime and anti-terror solutions of the government.

Fortunately, the Philippine government is impotent in countering the organizing possibilities of new media tools. Politicians have threatened to arrest malicious texters who send subversive jokes but political text messaging remains acerbic and effective in the country. No texter has been jailed for insulting the president.

Filipino activist groups insist that cell phones are tools to be maximized to deliver messages to the people. Political mobilization will be successful if it is pursued through painstaking grassroots-building and person-to-person interaction. People who use the technology, not the technology alone, are the most important factor in developing political campaigns.

Related entries:

Txtpower
PC games, schools, GMA
Cybercampaigning

Blog me if you can

New pictures in my photoblog, click here and here.

Teo Marasigan reminded his readers and critics as well that he has nothing against the use of blogging for political reasons. He gave an outline of his ideas on what should be the right ethics and practice of blogging among activists.

Teo disagreed with many of my viewpoints. He disliked my mentioning of his “palasukong aktitud” towards the use of internet. Ofcourse Teo is not palasuko. I am witness to his remarkable political record as a national democratic activist.

In his earlier essay, Teo wrote the following:

“Oo, larangan ng tunggalian ang Internet – pero dehado ang mga progresibo rito. Oo, mahalaga ang mga petiburgis sa pulitika ng pagbabago dahil madali nilang magagap at maibahagi ang progresibong mga ideya. Oo, nag-iisip na seksiyon nito ang nasa blogosphere. Pero papaling-paling ang mga petiburgis, at dominante sa Internet ang mga puwersang hahatak sa kanila palayo sa pagbabago.”

To emphasize what I have already written before, the dominance of reactionary thinking in the internet and the vaccilating character of the youth should not be used as basis to discourage activists from maximizing the cyberspace. Reactionary influence is stronger in our society but we still believe in the efficacy of our struggles. This was precisely the reason why I used the term palasuko.

I thank Teo for highlighting the contradiction in my essay about viewing blogging as a political act itself vis a vis my rejection of the accusation that activist bloggers have been promoting blogging for blogging sake. Let me clarify my point.

There are many bloggers who are politicized through blogging. By setting up blogs, by writing about mundane concerns, chances are these bloggers will also be motivated to write something political in reaction to the disappointing state of affairs of the country and the world. There are many bloggers who are outraged by what they read or watch in the news and their available outlet is to blog about this frustration. Their political commentaries are read by fellow bloggers who may be inspired to write about the same issues as well. This kind of politicization, facilitated by blogging even without the intervention of activists, was not possible a few years ago. Just imagine how activist bloggers and their networking activities in the internet can be a factor in developing the political consciousness of other young bloggers.

I agree with Teo about the real dangers of irresponsible use of internet to the security of activists. And I reiterate my views on this subject: Offline and online solidarities are our best defense against State surveillance. I cannot allow the threat of Big Brother to alter my internet habits and activities which are quickly becoming a convenient and effective link to other individuals, friends and relatives around the globe.

I disagree with Teo’s observation that activist bloggers are equating progresiveness with use of new technologies. Nor is there a blind worship for capitalist tools. This is tempered by the reality that communications technology in this part of the world is not as accessible in other countries.

Activists are not quickly jumping to the “use this software, application, gadget” bandwagon. This exchange of views between myself and esteemed comrade Teo would have taken place a few years ago if activists are sobrang babaw in embracing technologies. When I started blogging in 2004, it was no longer a novel activity.

Just a few words on technology. Capitalism creates instruments and tools to surmount the crisis of overaccumulation. In the process, these tools become gravediggers since they can be utilized to defeat capitalism. The advancements in technology can facilitate trading among capitalist countries but the same processes can allow workers to establish an International.

Teo’s promotion of an appropriate political practice and ethics of blogging among activists is commendable. I support the articulation of this need. However, I object to the implied notion (and sometimes direct suggestion) that activist bloggers have been irresponsible, uncritical and undiscriminating in the use of blogs.

Almost all activist bloggers have been affirming the primacy of mass struggles over other activities, like blogging. There are no ridiculous efforts to persuade activists in the countryside or those who are planning to integrate with the peasants to blog about their activities. There are no initiatives which identify blogging as the correct revolutionary path.

The encouragement to blog is directed to those activists who have the time, enthusiasm, ability and the means to do it. Blogging is not required among activists but if one is aware of the writing prowess of a fellow activist, is it wrong to invite him/her to blog? I do not know of any activist who wastes his/her time by blogging about politics all day. May mga nilamon ng sistema (at akademya) pero wala pang nilalamon ng blog.

There seems to be a disconnect between what activist bloggers have been doing for the past years and what Teo has been observing. Most activist bloggers have adequately and responsibly appropriated blogging to propagate national democratic political views.

What is most ironic is that when activist bloggers began to experiment with the idea of creating a forum or venue for bloggers to exchange views on different issues of the day; when activist bloggers coalesced with the progressive and highly popular bloggers in the country; when some form of organization can be developed among radical but not necessarily leftist bloggers; that was the time when Teo began to question and ridicule the blog efforts of his activist friends.

For quite some time, blogging practice was limited to individual initiatives. Activist bloggers saw the need to pursue joint activities with other critical and left-leaning bloggers of the country. Teo may have his own concept of blogging practice but other activist bloggers have already shown how bloggers can further develop political blogging in the country.

Over the last few days, I have been reflecting about the blogs and blog activities of activists. I wanted to probe if there is an alarming trend of blog misuse. I wanted to know what provoked Teo to question the blog practice of activists which could prove damning and counter-productive to the goals of our organizations. What reprehensible codes are to be found in the blogs of activists which unleashed the “neo-luddite” apprehensions of Teo? Are activists becoming uncritical bloggers already? Are activists diluting their politics by blogging?

Perhaps I was looking the wrong way or I may be prejudiced already. But in all honesty, I want to say that I am proud of the blogs of my comrades. I admire how activist bloggers have been using blogging to reach out to more people, inform other comrades of our activities and prove that activists offer the best solutions to the country’s problems without compromising their other more important tasks. The most conscientious activist bloggers I know are also the most active protesters in the streets.

Teo has the right to worry about what he sees as disturbing practice of blogging among clueless activists. He said I gave no critical opinion on Twitter, Multiply and Web 2.0. I plead guilty. And I was wrong on that point. Teo, on the other hand, has failed to recognize and appreciate the critical blogging practice of his activist friends and created a false impression that activist bloggers are close to surrendering to the dangerous pleasures of politics-less blogging.

I have reservations for Teo’s Anti-Blog campaign. I like the appeal to expose the capitalist motive behind the sudden rise of blogging. I am with Teo in stressing the limitations of blogging. But I will be careful in formulating an ethics of blogging which will include the doctrine of “do not promote blogging.”

Instead, I am more inclined to direct readers and activists to spare some time in studying how activists from other countries are using blogs and the internet in general to fight censorship and repression. We can learn so much from dissidents from other countries and their practice may be of good use to us today or in the future.

There are benefits of further developing the practice of blogging as one of the available tools of activists, however limited and less potent they seem to be.

I did not mean to offend when I described Teo as an intellectual. I meant it in the Gramscian sense. Blogging among high school students is not a bad idea especially if we note its pedagogic value.

(Ay naku Teo, pag sumagot ka ulit I will reveal your corny jokes and bad singing moments).

Related article: Blogismo