Back in 2008 when I was conscripted by Nick Cugtas, then “Editor-not-Chief” of the now-defunct pioneering blog site, Filipino Voices (FV) to contribute to his “wisdom of crowds” project, the Philippine blogosphere was far more dynamic and diverse. Twitter was not yet the in thing back then and, as such, the dumbing-down effect of having to “debate” over 140-character snippets that spend all of 5 minutes in the part of a scrolling “timeline” visible on a screen was yet to infect the Philippine “intelligentsia”. So blog posts were the primary currency of articulate and structured ideas exchange at the time.
Leading the pack from the earliest days (perhaps starting as far back as the mid- to late-1990s) was The Noted One, the venerable Manuel L Quezon III. His blog Quezon.ph was the go-to blog at the time, but surrounding him were real heavyweights, Connie Veneracion’s Sassy Lawyer, the PCIJ Blog directly led at the time by Sheila Coronel and the late great Alecks Pabico, and the alluring Rom Sedona on Smoke Talk.
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By 2008, when FV went online, the golden age of Philippine blogging was about to go into full swing. Another collective blog, Edwin Jamora’s (a.k.a. Reyna Elena) BarrioSiete had also sprung up adding more fire from an even more “diverse” group.
Another noted blogger Angela Stuart Santiago took stock of the brewing blogo-storm at the dawn of this golden age in her June 2008 piece Battle of the Blogs. By 2012, however, she was already writing about the end of that two-year golden age in her retrospective 2012 piece Blogging in the Wind. The wasteland that was the Philippine blogosphere of 2010 she described as an abject discrediting of Nick’s “wisdom of the crowd” vision for FV. “FV had lost its appeal long before that. The ‘wisdom of the crowd’ never quite showed up; it was impossible to tell who was winning, if any, what argument,” wrote Stuart-Santiago; “and then cory died, FV turned yellow, and then died, too.” The same happened to Jamora’s Barrio Siete. After turning yellow and supporting the candidacy of Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III in the 2010 elections, it eventually disintegrated as well.
What Stuart-Santiago also wrote describing the blogging landscape in 2012 may as well describe the landscape today in 2015, three years hence…
this is all to say how silent, if not kind, the blogosphere is these days, in contrast to the arroyo years. you would think that there’s nothing to question, nothing to criticize, the aquino administration is doing a great job. but since it’s not true, in fact little has changed so far, i figure that most bloggers choose to give the president the benefit of the doubt until, well, who knows, until his term ends? meanwhile, radikalchick and i get a lot of brickbats about being negative, we must be anti-pinoy daw because we have little good to say about the presidency of cory’s and ninoy’s son, and why daw are we not practising journalistic ethics, as in, presenting both sides of an issue, rather than being so critical.
I’ll offer a theory as to why things are “quiet” nowadays in the Philippine blogosphere. But first let us get two obvious major contributing factors to that silence out of the way:
(1) the disappearance of The Noted One, Manuel L Quezon III into the intellectual black hole that is the government of President BS Aquino; and,
(2) as mentioned earlier, the advent of social media which turned formerly serious article writers into cluckety 140-character noise makers.
Outside of those two factors, for me, the real reason the Philippine blogosphere has gone silent as far as real “debate” goes is because the “good guys” are in power. So effective was the 25-year ad campaign to deeply-ingrain the “goodness” of the Yellow brand of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan in the Filipino psyche that criticising top scion BS Aquino today gives people the same heeby-jeebies as, say, cracking Jesus Christ jokes. The beholdenness to the Tarlac saints is virtually religious-fundamentalist in its fervour.
Every now and then, a little boy would apply a child-like innocence to call out the nakedness of Emperor Noynoy Aquino. Unfortunately most people choose to believe that the Emperor is simply wearing clothes made of threads invisible to fools. This mass hypnosis continues today. And a lot of people prefer not to see a world outside of this delusion much the same way the simulated world of The Matrix proved comfier to the half-brained majority of what was left of the human race in that 1999 Wachowski Bothers sci-fi classic film.
To be fair, it is hard to get through to people who to their dying breath fancy themselves a “special” people who hold a monopoly on “goodness” and, whenever said goodness was challenged, would quickly whip out their ace victim card.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.