The Philippines celebrated its first leg of the third Philippine Blog Awards last year. As the country is physically divided due to the nature of its terrain (7,000+ islands) the awards was split into three regions to give context to cultural influences of every region. Radio host and an advocate for youth volunteer efforts, Gang Badoy was invited to deliver the keynote for this year. The past two months in Manila have been emotional for most, with murders, epic floods and typhoons and the upcoming elections turning bloggers more and more vigilant.
What an honor and a frustration to be given ten minutes to address, perhaps (arguably) the most eloquent group of people ever gathered in 2009. But here I am, so here I go.
I cannot discuss any other ‘angle on blogging’ tonight except my gratitude to bloggers. During a crisis- you have kept many of us informed, during darker times – you, blogger have inspired, during births – you spread the joy and during death – many of you have rendered those who have gone before us immortal. There is no single phenomenon that has done all those in such a level.
Your personal thoughts, observations, factual research even urgent yet seemingly trivial emotions have contributed greatly to us who read you. Imagine how wide the understanding of the next generation will be of us who have gone before them -because of your blogs. Mas maiintindihan nila kung saan tayo nanggaling (They will be able to better understand where we came from). For me the best description of one who loves his country is someone who is interested in where we came from, where we are today – and where we want the country to go. Imagine the advantage the next generation has because they have our blogs to refer to.
Bloggers may have shook mainstream journalism out of its seeming (not apparent) complacency. It has pressured people to decide faster and smarter during emergencies because bloggers, for the most part, cover the many angles of truth. From the ground. I am aware that it is not all positive – lies, panic, confusion, anger, negativity have also stemmed from blogs. Blogs have given us headaches, I know one or two that have – but one thing is for sure – I have never encountered a blog that made me more complacent. And wow- what a gift. What a gift to the country – a country that desperately needs participation, incisive thinking, swift reason, informed suggestions and countless other values.
Whenever the subject of press freedom comes up we always used to hear ‘better an abusive press than a suppressed one.’ I think bloggers took that one step further. Which is why my contention is this: there may be very few networks as powerful and as influential and as crucial as a responsible, articulate, prolific blogger.
2009 made me realize that a nation is not its government. Thank God. Blogging has relieved me with the fact that the history of the Philippines is no longer solely in the hands of the textbook writer. (Thank God) A history of a nation is really the collection of stories of individual lives. Our individual lives. Yours.
You know, during this recent crisis -one typhoon then the next – I observed that politicians will be ‘press-conning A” – networks will be reporting B – and bloggers will be saying C. How lucky we are to have all those views, may we have the resources and smarts to sift through all that. If we do, then we’re on our way.
Though divided in opinion I am still grateful to all who blog. Unity was never my premise for us to move and to make great a nation – but unity certainly is the goal. Not the premise — but the goal.
In my wobbly logic I will say that a country is a shared geographic space. It is the assigned square area where people live together. But a nation – wow, a nation is different; a nation is a frame of mind, a general direction, a common rhythm that a group of people share. That’s a nation.
I like the title of this year’s awards. Three words that I hope to someday re-arrange. Maybe some day we can be just ONE NATION – and we just all happen to blog.
Last thought – blogging is not the ultimate verb here tonight. I know you have caught a lot of flack in the past about the seeming non-active motion bloggers take. For those who think that blogging is a minor verb, I have something to share: One cannot blog unless one goes out there. If you never got your hands dirty or walked streets, helped out, experienced heartbreak, death, birth, victory, defeat, betrayal, pain, sweat- then really- you have nothing to blog. I think it is because you live and you live well — this is why you can blog. Someday it will be said that blogging is merely the record of ‘lives well-lived.’ Again, for that I am grateful.
Keep on doing what you do, living the lives that you lead. If the country is lucky, you will still continue to blog and (quoting Plato) – your storytelling will be the education of our future’s heroes.
Welcome to the Philippines, One Blogging Nation.
Mabuhay tayong lahat.