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Bloggers & The Bourgeoisie

Posted by frankahilario on f April 2007

frank-relevances.jpg
‘Relevances’ by Frank A Hilario

Relevance & Irrelevance

Victor Villanueva (Bikoy.Net) is complaining:

My attendance in (The 1st Philippine Blog Awards) simply reinforced what I believe the situation of the ‘blogosphere’ is. Almost all bloggers in the Philippines today are still middle class and upper class urban Filipinos, most of whom are in Manila. And (because of the fact) that the Philippines is a largely rural country, and a vast majority of Filipinos are still without internet access, I honestly believe that this so-called ‘Philippine blogosphere’ (and this may run in contrast to how other present Filipino bloggers perceive things), is barely Philippine or Filipino at all.

Oh, Bikoy, if you’re telling me that because I prefer to blog in English and because I’m middle class and because my American Idol is an American President, that I’m ‘barely Filipino’ and my topic is ‘barely Philippine’ – then the poor who can’t blog are ‘fully Filipino’ and whatever they talk about is ‘fully Philippine.’ Do you know what the poor talk about? Erap with love, GMA with hate. ‘Ang daming ignoranteng kongresista,’ I heard Leo Martinez say on TV, ‘kasi ang daming ignoranteng botante.’ We have so many ignorant lawmakers because we have so many ignorant voters. That’s the majority of Filipinos – else, the old fools have no chances of winning. They have made a President, didn’t they?

About Internet access, go to the villages and in sleepy towns like my own Asingan in Pangasinan, and you will see they do have Internet cafés (our town had 5 when I last counted last year). The problem with the urban and rural youth is that while they have Internet access, they gravitate towards online games, that’s all. And do you know that in the University Town of Los Baños, there are about 50 Internet cafés all thriving on online games for the youth, and these cafés are very near schools (including UP Los Baños) and neither school officials nor local government officials have spoken against them – or thrown them to jail? There’s a law about schools and students playing games while classes are going on. All over the country, in these beautiful pearls of the Orient seas, the Internet cafés are making money on the future of our children and nobody’s complaining or doing something about it.

What thought preoccupies many Filipinos these days, according to SWS and Pulse Asia and the Genuine Opposition? Only one: ‘Oust GMA.’ That, my dear Bikoy, is barely Philippine or Filipino at all; in fact, it is anti-Filipino.

With our pride and energy as bloggers, should also come the humility of realizing that ‘we’ bloggers are not that much relevant. NOT YET, at least. I don’t even think the Internet will play much of a role in the upcoming local and national elections without our dependence on mainstream media. This passion and hobby of ours is still a very ‘burgis’ preoccupation, really. But this should not stop us from pursuing greater relevance and inclusive reach.

If you measure ‘relevance’ as ‘clout’ (as in the power of the media), then we bloggers are hardly relevant. But I see relevance otherwise. I see relevance in talking (and being happy) about being a housewife, traveling, There is relevance in going to church, in selling candles to earn a living, in going to dinner with a concert. There is relevance in just being ourselves.

If by relevance you mean fighting for the poor and the oppressed, I have other ideas. You don’t fight for others – they have to fight for themselves. They have to help themselves: Let’s stop teaching our people to be forever mendicants. You teach them, if you can, how to fight – which you can blog about. Give a man a fish, and he’ll have food for a day; teach a man how to fish, and he’ll have food for a lifetime. Unless he’s lazy.

Me, for instance, I’ve been blogging about and advocating a parliamentary system for these islands. If you don’t believe in a parliamentary system for the Philippines, would you say I am irrelevant? If I am against genetically modified organisms, would you say I am relevant?

So what if I’m bourgeois and a blogger? We have barely scratched the surface of the power of the Internet. We are the vanguards; there must always be vanguards. Look at your world history: Only the bourgeois can be vanguards. The masses cannot be vanguards – or they will not be the masses.

For now, I still dream (of) a more dynamic and representative blogosphere that showcases in as much as it exposes the common Filipino’s life and the real Philippine situation. And for the mean time, present bloggers like me, and you who’s reading this now, should continue blogging, reading blogs, aspire for better things to come, and do something (aside from blogging) about the things around us.

What is the real Philippine situation: That we are poor, that we are corrupt, that we cheat in elections, that the Americans stole our independence, that Emilio Aguinaldo ordered the execution of Andres Bonifacio? Everybody knows that already. (And who, may I ask, rhetorically, is the biggest election cheat in the world? Not a Filipino.) If I may add to the description of the real Philippine situation: We have cultivated a nation of mendicants. The attitude of the masses now can be summarized in two words: Give me.

Give me land. Give me a house,
Give me a job. Give me more than a job,
Give me medicine.
Give me my human rights.
Give me power.
Give me more!
Give me hope.

At that, I now invoke an American President, John F Kennedy, who said:

Ask not what your country can do for you; rather, ask what you can do for your country.

That to me, my dear Bikoy, is being relevant – and fully Filipino.

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