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Posts tagged ‘philippines’

A karaniwang tao’s view on the 2013 online electoral campaign so far

I recently participated in the #RapplerDebate Hangout last Saturday to discuss the social media campaign trail so far in the Philippines’ 2013 elections, representing Team Teddy Casino. The connection was quite bad where we held the live chat, so I wasn’t able to effectively participate in the discussion. They did gave us guide questions, though, and here’s my answers to their questions.

My-Shirt-in-Rappler-GHangout

My finest moment in the Hangout — showing off my shirt to the viewing public.

  1. Campaigns in the world of Twitter and Facebook
    • Is it different?
      Social networks are extensions of our social spheres. Campaigning online is thus essentially no different with how activists engage, organize and mobilize in the real world: we promote our advocacies, we explain our positions on issues, and we invite them to both online and offline activities.
      What new media brought into the equation is the access – with the right strategy, there is now the potential to reach 25 to 30 million Filipinos across socio-economic classes without the barriers of distance and geography.On the other hand, there are unique limitations to digital campaigning: despite recently being touted by the United Nations as a human right, internet access is still severely limited by high prices of internet rates, slow speed, and its concentration in urban areas.
    • Is it a priority? How much time and effort is spent on social media?
      It is an integral component of our electoral campaign, but it is not the priority. An obvious reason is that traditional media still has the overwhelmingly greatest reach in the playing field. But to progressive political activists, the electoral fight isn’t a mere race to sweep votes, we’re also looking into getting solid votes that will translate into commitment for social action beyond the election period.

      So while it is not the priority strategy to win the electoral campaign, our new media campaign is of much importance as it is a venue to saturate a captured online audience with sustained political education at a very low cost.We have a small team of multi-taskers who are focused on ensuring the spread of high-quality content that will help Filipino citizens to understand better and even encourage them to participate in our advocacies.

      Our work flow allows us to fully campaign during the peak online hours of peak week days, while formulating and creating content during its off-peak hours. We call Saturdays and Sundays weekends but we’re usually using it to do weekly assessments and plannings.

    • Why spend that much time?
      It is an opportunity to solidly educate and organize our ever expanding supporter base to help them understand the structural roots of the problems of mass poverty, corruption, lack of social services, and the destruction of our environment that our country faces.
      Hindi tulad ng mga trapo na kailangan lang ang atensyon at suporta ng mamamayan tuwing eleksyon, sinisikap namin makabuklod sila sa buong panahon naming pagkilos.
  1. Online vs on ground
    • How different is engagement online and in real life?
      Netizens are more opinionated, and why not: they are exposed to a barrage of information and insights. The more active ones are also more influential to their own social spheres. Unfortunately, there is still a persisting culture of slacktivism – that is, online advocacy that doesn’t translate into real-world actions – which has to be addressed by our online campaigners. To be able to tap netizens for campaigning especially for activities in real life contributes greatly to Teddy’s run for a politics of change.

    • Limitations of social media: only a certain class can be reached. How do you balance that out?
      We try to mobilize online supporters to campaign in their own social spheres – or to link up directly with our party chapters in every province. That’s the basic problem we try to address: ensuring the vote conversions aren’t limited to the individuals we directly reached online, but to access their own networks as well.

  2. Tales from the campaign trail
    • What issues have you come across online?Well, of course we face the usual vilification of the Left. In fact, we regularly experience what seems to be “operations” by hardcore militarists who throw the usual tirades of anti-communism and evangelize AFP modernization. The standard practice: discern trolls from truth-seekers, ignore the former, enlighten the latter, and regulate the unruly.

    • Any social media booboos so far? Lessons from those?
      One of our campaigners got into a tweet war with a journalist. And the incident was still being milked long after the apologies have been expressed and accepted. Then of course, there have been little mistakes such as typos, mistweets, etc. But its natural when the team is composed of volunteer activists and advocates – the campaign, after all, is the fight of the karaniwang tao for the karaniwang tao. Tao lang, nagkakamali din.

      But so far, we have made the editorial of our content and engagements tighter. Teddy’s consistently among the top 12 most engaging candidates. Nothing resonates more with the people than words that are sincere, earnest, and correct in articulating the problems our nation faces and in answering them comprehensive solutions.

    • Has social media and the Internet made campaigning easier or harder?
      It has indeed given opportunities for the champions of new politics to get the message across, but it is also replete with its own limitations and problems. The willingness of advocates to maximize all these new tools and venues for social change available to us is what will decide if it will be easier or harder.

  3. Moving forward: the road to 2016
    • Internet, social media, mobile device use will only boom in the following years. How do you think this will affect campaigns 3 years from now?
      Social media, like all scientific and technological advances, can be equally wielded both by those who seek change and those who maintain the status quo. Let us make sure that the people have the initiative to use these to their advantage.

  4. Parting messages from each campaign
    To our fellow netizens, the 2013 elections presents to us a unique opportunity to have our very own, a karaniwang tao, and a netizen through and through, in the Senate. We deserve to have our voice represented and heard echoing ever stronger in Congress. Ipanalo natin ang Karaniwang Tao, Teddy Casiño po sa Senado.

If you want to see the entire Hangout to see what the other social media operators (with much better connections) had to say, you can watch it here:

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Manila Bay’s beauty beyond the sunset

Kalbaryo-Reclamation

Parishioners, residents and green groups held a processional protest against impending reclamation projects in Manila Bay. Photo from Kalikasan PNE

Paranaque residents, parishioners and other concerned groups observed Viernes Dolores last March 22 with a Kalbaryo (Way of the Cross) processional protest, with prayers and performances of environmental poetry and music in opposition to plans of reclaiming environmentally-critical foreshore areas in Manila Bay into a sprawling business complex.

Prior to this, a silent human chain was organized by 3,000 people across Roxas Boulevard to witness the beautiful sunset that made the bay an iconic landmark – and as a symbol of the broad unity of people opposed to the Manila Solar City reclamation project. Regular coastal cleanups have also been done in Freedom Island, the 175-hectare bird sanctuary smack in the middle of the project area, in an effort to significantly remove the clutter from one of the Metro’s last green areas.

The aesthetic value alone of Manila Bay could inspire such creative gestures of stewardship over Manila Bay. But its beauty goes beyond the picturesque views and bird watching hotspots: advocates have long explained the significant role of the Manila Bay ecosystem to lives in the area connected all the way up to the global big picture.

Just days ago, the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) where the country’s only urban bird sanctuary can be found became the sixth site in the Philippines to join the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, signifying its global significance to biodiversity. Indeed, LPPCHEA is home to at least 5,000 migratory and resident birds on a given day, including 47 rare species such as the Chinese Egret and the Philippine Duck.

A verdant mangrove forest sprawling in the waters of Manila Bay is the last of its kind in the National Capital Region. Photo from Kalikasan PNE

A verdant mangrove forest sprawling in the waters of Manila Bay is the last of its kind in the National Capital Region. Photo from Kalikasan PNE

Birds aren’t just eye candy for nature lovers. According to the Iowa University’s Nature Mapping Program, these animals are important links in the food chains and webs of the ecosystems they traverse. They are agents of life, dispersing seeds, pollens and other bio-mass that help propagate plants and other organisms vital to a healthy environment. They also serve as natural pest controls, regulating insect populations by feeding on them.

Birds are also important biological indicators, playing a major role in analyzing and creating awareness about the lethal qualities of DDT and other pesticides in “Silent Spring”, the famed book that started the world-wide environmental movement written by biologist Rachel Carson. Indeed, to see LPPCHEA’s bird population to have dwindled to its current state from a healthy average of around 28,000 back in the 70s is indicative of the level of impact so-called development projects in the capital have on our quality of life.

While infamous for its scores of floating garbage and bouts of red tide and fish kills, large parts of Manila Bay are still teeming with sea life. Home to diverse marine ecosystems of coral reefs and sea grasses, it remains as one of the most important suppliers of fisheries in the country. Just last year, a butanding (Whale Shark) was sighted in Manila Bay indicating the possibility of more favorable feeding conditions, such as a spurt in alamang (krill) and dilis (anchovy) populations. Marine scientists pointed out that butanding feeding visits in Manila Bay were more common back then.

Any news of an increasingly productive Manila Bay is definitely welcome news. Fisheries accounts for 80 percent of the Filipino’s average animal protein intake and, more importantly, the livelihood of one out of ten Filipinos. According to the environment group Kalikasan, Manila Bay plays a crucial role as a link in various marine ecosystems (including the LPPCHEA bird sanctuary) that sustain fisheries production in the country. That fisherfolk have reported a drop in fish catch from a high average of 15 kilos to a measly 1 to 3 kilos a day, and largely due to reclamation activity, is reason enough to cheer for a solitary butanding sighting.

The real beauty of Manila Bay lies in the unseen: despite the pollution and abuse from development aggression, it remains a highly important source of life interconnected to various ecosystems across the country.

In the People’s Resolution on Reclamation formulated by about 200 fisherfolk leaders, experts, lawyers and environmental advocates, they cited the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) to have called land reclamation as one of the most irreversible forms of environmental degradation. With this as context, they pointed out that 38,272 hectares or one-tenth of our country’s coastal and marine habitats will be covered by various reclamation projects under the National Reclamation Plan. 70 percent or a third of these will be done solely in Manila Bay.

The famed Manila Bay sunset is just one of a plethora of reasons why people oppose reclamation pojects that would affect its integrity. Photo by Kalikasan PNE

The famed Manila Bay sunset is just one of a plethora of reasons why people oppose reclamation pojects that would affect its integrity. Photo by Kalikasan PNE

That unique and romantic sunset view that cannot be seen in any other country isn’t the only poignancy that is threatened to be lost if these reclamation projects push through. I can think of a few more proudly Pinoy experiences that can possibly be affected:

  • Cebu’s famous seafood feast Sutukil (a portmanteau of Visayan words Sugba or grilling, Tula or stewing, and Kinilaw or ceviche) I was lucky enough to experience during a workshop in Cebu may remain a once in a lifetime experience if the seafood prices rise further due to depletion, something the Cordova Reclamation Project will surely aggravate if it pushes through.
  • We have our own seafood fare in Metro Manila called the Dampa seafood markets and restaurants, where you can buy the freshest catch of the day from fishing villages and have them cooked the way you want it. The abundance of these Dampa markets are likewise threatened.
  • LPPCHEA’s bird sanctuary has the potential of becoming an international bird watching attraction. The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation in the United States revealed how 71.8 million Americans took up bird watching as a hobby in 2011. This is in US alone. Imagine bringing that traffic into the Philippines. We’re better off developing ecotourism facilities than reclamation projects.

Beyond creature comforts, we must consider above all the welfare and dignity of our fisherfolks, inextricably linked to the need for a healthy coastal and marine ecosystem. UN FAO considers them to be among the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. It is their development that we must put into foremost consideration. After all, isn’t human dignity the most beautiful thing to witness anywhere in the world? #

Leon Dulce is the campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and a grassroots new media trainer for the Computer Professionals’ Union. He casually blogs and tweets in his spare time. Originally published in the OY! Project.

Observations in ABS-CBN’s Harapan

Mass Media: still an appendage of state repression.

1. Lakas-Kampi and LP candidates get 65-85% rating; PMP, Kapatiran, and Bangon Pilipinas candidates get 40-60%; NP candidates get 20-30% rating with the exception of Adel Tamano.

2. WARS system, though having the proper disclaimer of having no scientific basis, is made to appear credible the way it is packaged as a new technology.

3. Ted Failon’s rephrasing of questions early on became lee-ways for Neric Acosta and Jovito Palparan to skirt incisive questions, though they had been doing that without Failon’s prompting.

4. Online live-blog and text results indicate Satur Ocampo’s relative success, getting a 61 vs 31% victory over Palparan in the second round, and getting 10% of text votes, double of what Palparan got, and 3rd place overall.

5. Live-blog results show the reaction of the middle class, however texting is a technology more accessible to the masses, yet the WARS results still hogs the larger on-air percentage.

6. Soundbites and black propaganda net huge percentages, however platform-based answers, either completely or partly, suffer poor percentages in the WARS system.

7. The debate format limited to 30sec-1min intervals for debates and rebuttals do not give sufficient time for concrete explanations on topics. You can particularly observe this on Satur Ocampo’s attempt to explain AFP-NPA war and peace issues. Obama and McCain’s debates in 2008 had them going for minutes in elaborating specific points of different topics.

Globalized Tourism Should Not Be

Author’s Note: I just did this paper for my Southeast Asia 30 class’ completion. It reminded me of how the pristine beauty and richness of our nation continues to be exploited by Imperialism and yet there remains segments of the population who believe in the “benevolence” of the American Empire.

Is our Culture of Resistance no more than a Folk Story? (Photo by Karl Ramirez)

It could be paralleled to a zoo, once a hub of educational experience in the field of biology and environmental science, now treated as a commercial centre with its convenience stores and souvenir shops. It doesn’t take a scholar to realize that there’s something wrong in looking at nature and culture as exploitable products instead of pedagogical tools.

The industry of tourism nowadays defeats its very purpose, rooted in the neoliberal order of the global economy aggravating the encroachment of globalization on smaller cultures in the developing world. Transnational companies imbibe a culture of consumerism, encouraging popular culture as the driver of their product’s demands, and this manifests itself in tourism in the exoticism and commodification of indigenous cultures and natural wonders.

Indeed, the economy has always dictated how the political and cultural superstructure of a society forms, since the class divisions it creates dictate what access to political power and cultural capital particular classes have. This is prominent in the fact that our economy is subservient to imperialist economies such as the United States, parroted in tourism trends that cater to the taste and needs of foreign tourists.

We have much to gain from our cultural heritage. Case in point is the wonder of the world, the Ifugao Rice Terraces, which scientists in the fields of agriculture, engineering and the social and environmental sciences continue to learn from. Other cultures have much to learn from the historical context of the creation of the terraces, speaking of the value of collective action, adaptive technology and ingenuity. Yet despite this, it has been marketed primarily for its aesthetic value.

This is apparent in the preservation scheme of the terrace, where only the terraces slated to be frequented by tourists enjoy subsidy for maintenance, while the rest are left in a state of disrepair. Conveniently forgotten is the fact that these terraces are still agricultural lands used by the present indigenous peoples. There’s a problem when the state prioritizes funding based on tourist demand, while consideration for the livelihood of the agricultural sector is left in the margins.

Tourism should not be market-driven, but educational in character. People should be able to tour our countries and come out wiser about how our nations came to be carved out from the struggle of our culture to survive both the internal geographic challenges, and the external factors of the empires that come and go.