August 26, 2007
This morning, I received an e-mail from one of my friends in the Filipina Women’s Network 2006 Future Search Summit google group about the Malu Fernandez fiasco. I decided to write a blog entry a week after the Pinoy blogosphere rocked cyberspace with the story. This is because I wanted to find out what gifts we received from this miserable situation.
I dedicated this blog, TALK STORY, to my nieces and nephews. After all, 50 years from now, their children and grandchildren will be able to read my stories straight from the heart, hopefully reaching out to their offspring across several generations.
Here is the e-mail I sent out this morning to some of my friends in the Filipino American community (slightly edited).
SUBJECT: THE POWER OF BLOGGING
This matter about Malu Fernandez has already been resolved. She just resigned a few days ago from the publications she is affiliated with. I had been following the events during the past week because the person who started a call to action —the boycott movement — Nick of Tingog.com, asked the help of Philippine-based bloggers.
During this past week, as I read the comments at www.tingog.com, I was both happy and disappointed. I heard more OFW voices speak out, but I also saw the worst of the comments, the ones that commented on Malu’s physical attributes. It got bloody personal. And out of control.
I didn’t ask for a boycott. I recommended a public apology and a suggestion that Manila Standard send Malu off for three months on a writing assignment, based on her experiences as an OFW (to work as a domestic helper overseas). My commentary was also picked up by Joseph Dominic, who quoted me in full (it’s all right, Dominic, I’m honored that you decided to quote me), who then re-posted my comment at Manolo Quezon’s blog, wherein many bloggers didn’t think a boycott was warranted. The other bloggers weren’t as kind.
A few days ago, after the internet furor calmed down a bit, here is what came out. Lessons learned were blogged by my sister, Noemi Dado. My sister employed a micro-blogging program we both use, Twitter, to get the word out. And she pointed out some very sobering insights:
Even if Nick’s tingog.com is a relatively new blog, his call to action echoed throughout the blogosphere. Tingog is the Visayan word for Voice. Yes, at the start it was a tiny voice. Not many journalists picked up the story until it blew into wide-scale proportions. Or until the time that Malu Fernandez apologized and resigned. Do not underestimate the power of the blog even if the blog is relatively new.
Because of the Malu Fernandez issue, no one can deny the growing popularity and influence of blogs as a source of information and opinion. Name-calling such as Litson , biatch piggy wannabee etc. is not part of this information. Maybe it is high time to start discussing ethical standards, not as a way of stifling the free spirits online, but in order to provide guideposts of conduct and morality in the wild-west landscape of cyberspace.
Yesterday, I found a quote from Jeremy Zilar, the design technologist of a mainstream US newspaper, regarding his experience at a blogging conference I attended a month ago. Jeremy was one of our session speakers at WordCamp 2007.
Honestly, I felt overwhelmingly under-read while listening to most of the conversations in the room. There are really so many amazing blogs out there. Blogs that are creating real change in parts of the world where a free press is not allowed. This is moving content! There was one woman, Lorna Dietz of filipinasmag.com, who cited examples of various Filipina writers who are using blogs enrich the web and search engines with positive stories of Filipina women.
There is no question that blogs have become a very powerful means of communication and social change in the world. I really believe it is the nature of the medium that brings out the need to voice our thoughts and views, and it was refreshing to be around so many people this weekend who have been affected by the power of blogs and want to do more.
So, social change is what we want to effect when using our CITIZEN VOICES. Let blogging reflect the highest good we want to see in all of us.
HERE IS WHERE WE CAN START. JUST AN EXAMPLE:
My sister, Dine Racoma (one of her blogger-friends), and I started FilipinaImages.com a month ago because we all had a common ground in “Shaping the Filipina Image” online. Taking the keyword “Filipina” back is not a short-term project. For us, it means that the word “Filipina” be linked to Filipina Women’s Network (as a first step) so that it could reach the number one spot in the SERPs (search engine results page). This project is a collaborative effort of all bloggers who believe that The Filipina of The Future deserves a more empowered, diverse image online.
How you can join the campaign:
1. If you already have an article about “The Filipina” that you’ve housed in your blog or website, you can link it to http://filipinaimages.com. Or, write articles with the goal of shaping or reshaping the image of the Filipina online.
Submit the first couple of paragraphs of your article to this website and then invite the reader to continue reading the rest of your article at your blog. See my example: The Filipina Says, “Breastfeeding is Sexy!”
2. We would like to hear more voices. So, why don’t you start blogging?
It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Go to Blogger.com.