By Carlos H. Conde
There is injustice in the world. The family of Bambee dela Paz, the golfer whose father and brother were manhandled by the sons of Agrarian Reform Secretary and peace negotiator Nasser Pangandaman Sr., knows this only too well.
Bambee’s post about the mauling has since exploded on the Internet and single-handedly turned the table against a powerful family with a direct line to the president. This underscored once again the potential of the Internet to be used by victims to seek justice. Bambee and her family are lucky to have such a medium in their arsenal. I don’t think I can say the same thing about other poorer Filipinos who have been victimized by those in power.
Blogging is, by its very nature, a personal medium. This is why bloggers tend to write much more forcefully about an injustice if it hits them on a personal level, as it did the dela Pazes.
But as we’ve seen in this case – and in other cases as well, most notably the Brian Gorrell imbroglio – once you blog about a wrong done to you, the whole blogosphere runs to your side, offering help and encouragement, even vengeance on your behalf. Once this happens, the mission to correct an injustice becomes a lot less personal — it becomes a movement.
If there’s one thing the Pangandamans probably regretted by now, it is that they did not check first if the people they violated had a blog, which, as we’ve seen, can be mightier than the goons of a trapo. The Pangandamans, powerful and arrogant, have been shamed and are now pleading to bloggers to please stop the vitriol. For this alone, the dela Pazes have scored a victory.
Now, for Bambee and her supporters, the inevitable question arises: Is this it? We have demonstrated that we have so much power as bloggers, and is this it? What next?
The thing about blogging is that it is so personal that whatever you post on your blog naturally flows from your experiences. So one moment you raise hell about the arrogance of those in power and, the next, you wonder aloud why the lip gloss you just bought doesn’t seem to have enough sheen. Truth be told, movements like Bambee’s are few and far between. Much of the blogosphere is inundated with stuff that are irrelevant, inconsequential and, well, personal. Then again, as I pointed out above, that is the original nature of blogging.
The key word is “original” because, as we’ve seen, blogging is evolving. Blogging today is much different from blogging four or five years ago. Five years ago, blogs are like Twitter today: the medium is there and you’re still figuring out how to use it, so you publish just about anything, such as the crappy movie you and your girlfriend are watching or the hot chick you are ogling at the supermarket counter. These tell a thing or two about you or what you are doing but, in the larger scheme of things, they are meaningless and irrelevant. But is this all that we can do with a medium so evidently powerful?
Today, blogging, apart from being both a narcissistic and cathartic exercise of self-expression among millions, is a potent information tool. News organizations use it to complement their journalism (take note: complement, not supplant). Activists use it to promote their cause. Victims use it to right a wrong.
I guess what I’m saying is that bloggers like Bambee can – and should – use their newfound power and influence to right the wrongs done on other people. And, by God, there is so much injustice being committed out there! Yet, except in the circles of activists and human-rights advocates, I have not seen the same level of outrage in the blogosphere over the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, of the atrocity done to Remegio Saladero Jr. and the hundreds of human-rights victims in the Philippines as we have witnessed in the Pangandaman incident.
A post thanking your multitude of supporters is nice but not quite enough. Bloggers who benefited from the power of blogging to correct the injustice done to them have a duty, I believe, to pay society back. And the only way I can think of is for them to raise hell, too, about the injustice done to other people, particularly the oppressed ones – those who are too poor and marginalized to even own a computer, let alone know that there is such a thing as a blog.
Carlos H. Conde is a journalist based in Manila.