Mindanao bloggers unite for peace
By Jeffrey M. Tupas
Last updated 06:07am (Mla time) 12/09/2007
DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- While most gatherings of bloggers are nailed on how to possibly earn huge money from this cyber exchange, which is almost as mundane as updating one’s web log, the first Mindanao Bloggers’ Summit talked about how to strive for peace.
Attended by almost a hundred bloggers from various parts of the island on Oct. 28 at the NCCC mall in Davao City, the summit aimed to promote the diverse cultures and identities of Mindanao in the hope of narrowing gaps that provoke conflict and misunderstanding.
A number of those who came were journalists, writers, artists and students, who even passed a resolution encouraging other bloggers to write about Mindanao as a “contribution to fostering understanding and peace.”
One of the summit’s major supporters, the United Nations Act for Peace Programme, and the Inquirer Mindanao Bureau drafted the resolution.
All shapes and sizes
The summit seeks “to bring together bloggers of all shapes and sizes, of varied beliefs and convictions, to a common venue, and hopefully together come up with answers to this question: What can we accomplish as bloggers to contribute to peace and understanding?” Oliver Robillo, the organizers’ team leader, said.
Robillo said the bloggers must open the windows to what is Mindanao for the world to see and appreciate, contrary to what is often highlighted in local and foreign media.
“Even our fellow Filipinos in Luzon and the Visayas are blind to the reality of our island,” he said.
“Through our collective voices, we will be able to effect certain improvements. By letting our blogs’ readers see our everyday lives, our work, our involvement, our passions --which we write about -- they will be given a glimpse of the true images of Mindanao,” Robillo said.
“By our blogging, the negative publicity surrounding the Philippine South might soon be overcome.”
According to the resolution, the bloggers would exploit the new medium of expression and information exchange to write stories about the “beauty of Mindanao’s people, culture, places, creativity as their contribution to foster understanding and peace on the island.”
“The participants have held Mindanao close to their hearts and are aware of its diverse people, rich cultures and amazing places,” it said. They “recognize the need to continually communicate with one another to know and understand Mindanao and its people through the available technology.”
Now posted at the www.mindanaobloggers.com, more bloggers said they were willing to become peace agents by supporting the resolution.
Fr. Albert Alejo, a peace advocate and one of the speakers, said peace building and promotion could be done in many ways, like writing stories about the goodness of people, especially those who are in the margins of society.
“We have to touch the heart where the violence starts … we have to create more images that touch the heart,” Alejo said.
The stories must tell about how government policies and officials further push the poor aside.
“Let us write about corruption because corruption is violence. Let us talk about Malacañang because Malacañang is violence,” Alejo said.
“We have to start writing about the billions of dollars coming in if the final peace agreement is signed between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front … we have to write about this before the money gets squandered by corrupt government officials.”
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