Developments that show the popularity of activism through social networks and other online media have led some people to believe that activism online would be sufficient in addressing issues of general concern. But is it really?
By ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
MANILA — In the final days of former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino’s battle with colon cancer, a supporter of hers set up an online “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” campaign for her, and close to 20,000 signed up in a short time.
The Facebook group “Pilipinas Kontra ConAss”, which was set up in the heat of the debates on the Arroyo administration’s charter-change moves through constituent assembly, has almost 60,000 members as of this writing.
The bloggers’ network Bloggers Kapihan, founded in 2007, has initiated three Blog Action Day activities which were able to draw out bloggers and encourage them to speak out on burning issues of the day – namely people power, poverty, and charter change.
The consumer group TXTPower has been successful in tapping the Internet for its advocacies.
In the Bicol Region, the BAN Balikatan online campaign has been instrumental in disseminating information on, and coordinating the campaign against the Balikatan military exercises.
Developments like these, which show the popularity of activism through social networks and other online media, have led some people to believe that activism online would be sufficient in addressing issues of general concern. But is it really?
Carlo Ople, a business executive who maintains the blog New Media Philippines (www.newmedia.com.ph), is one of the proponents of online activism as a substitute for offline, or real-world, activism.
“There are so many channels that can be tapped to communicate your message,” Ople wrote in a blog entry in late June. “Limiting oneself is not good because you’re not reaching out to all possible communities out there. It’s just like a normal marketing campaign. You have a message and you find ways to be able to be heard by your prospects in the most cost-effective manner. Since this campaign is targeting a broad base, then the organizers should appreciate new communication lines…
“Let’s face the truth – no matter how hard we shout out and try to convince people to rally, if the threat is not big enough and relevant to them, they will not march. Instead of trying to ram down the idea of physical rallies down their throats, let’s open up more avenues/mediums for them to be one with the cause. It’s the responsibility of the organizer to establish various ‘embassies’ so that their constituents can reach them and join them.”
Anthony Ian Cruz and Rick Bahague Jr., who are proponents of both online and real-world activism, do not deny the effectiveness of pursuing advocacy work online – even as they are of the position that it cannot be the sole form of activism.
Various estimates place the number of Internet users in the Philippines at anywhere from 6 million to 20 million – making it one of the top Internet-using countries in Asia.
“This considerable number mostly comes from the ABC, broad C and even DE social strata,” Cruz, a TXTPower convener and a member of the Bloggers Kapihan crew, said in an interview. “The middle strata have pitched their camp online and have formed online groups by the hundreds. The Internet provides an always-on way of reaching them for all sorts of causes especially insofar as the middle strata, youth, young professionals, OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and the like are concerned.”