On March 11, 2011, 3 hours before the will-never-to-be-forgotten catastrophe in the history of Japan and the world, I was on the national radio talking with former Usec Susan Ople, and Ms. Leo Navarro in the RMN News Bantay OFW. I was talking/ranting for nearly 30 minutes about the situation, the lack of system in our embassies and in our government especially with regards to the plights of OFWs, and suggesting about a few things to somehow make things right. I will mention a few here, in a hope that somehow those directly involved in OFW matters will have the chance to read this one. (Asa pa ako)
The topic of the day was about the Saudi 'Day of Rage' and we're grateful that nothing happened that day in our side of the world. The rally was peaceful, perhaps because of the overwhelming presence of police and armies, as well as the lack of support from the local people, and the determination of the Saudi government to quell any protest that they declared illegal. It was a smooth and quiet day. At least that was before I was interviewed. Before the intensity 9 earthquake hit Japan and the gigantic tsunami waves that flatten towns and damaged the nuclear power plant that they are desperately trying to contain now.
Anyway here are some of my suggestions, a few of it I mentioned on air, some I mentioned in my Twitter and Facebook post.
1. Kung gaano po kahigpit ang gobyerno natin sa pagsisingil ng bayad sa OWWA at POEA, and paghahanap ng receipt nito sa immigration, ganun din sana kahigpit ang pagkuha or pagrequire ng mga email address or mobile roaming number ng bawat Pinoy na lumalabas ng bansa.
Through this way I see the opportunity to communicate with the OFWs, informed them about emergencies and other info's that will make things easier. It is envious that foreigners are receiving updates through SMS from their embassies.
2. I hope this will be a feasible suggestion if we can communicate with Smart or Globe and other telecommunication companies if we can setup an international hotline number where we can text or call in any situation if an OFW is in need of help. In this age of technology and information, all this will be visible to take care of our people. Every OFW leave he country with a SIMcard, a roaming SIMCARD where they can receive messages as well as send messages. Some country telco's allows to use this sim to call, other only allows SMS messages. This is a very good opportunity to inform OFWs about news and information. If we can do this, we are showing that we are taking care our people.
3. Lower internet rate especially OFW families. The family, especially the OFW families is disintegrating. It is the terrible price of going abroad. The only thing that connects between them for a year or two or even beyond are the mobile phones, or laptops and computers through the internet. Let us make this a national crusade. I hope our politician will pick up this blog entry and passed a measure given the OFW family, one family per OFW a special discount in internet rate. As we make the internet affordable to OFW's we are connecting families, re-establishing connections between fathers and mothers to sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters.
4. The 72-hour kit, or emergency bag where you have everything ready for grab. Water, cookies, foods, medicine and first aid kit, passports, important documents, money, and few clothes. Since we were young we were taught to have this 3 days emergency kit enough for us to survive for 3 days. I hope OFW’s around the world will follow this simple and yet important counsel especially those of us here in the Middle East where situation is currently volatile.
Talking about 72 hour kit. We know what's going on in Japan. It's better to be ready. Anyway, the least we can do is pray for Japan and its people. They've been so good to the Philippines in humanitarian and development aid. It is such a beautiful country to be devastated by this series of tragedies too. I learn today and hope to reminded always, that no matter how strong and powerful a country is, like US and Japan, God has His way of reminding us that He is the Master of all.
We, Filipino bloggers and netizens from across the Philippines and those based overseas, coming from diverse backgrounds and specialties, using various new media outlets, hereby come together and call for the formation of a bloggers association of the Philippines that shall unite us around common and beneficial objectives and aspirations, mainly:
The promotion and defense of the right to free expression
The promotion and development of blogging, vlogging, photoblogging, microblogging and other online creative and expressive forms in all their diverse categories, topics and types
The gathering and sharing of Philippine blogging’s best practices that reflect our contributions to ourselves and our online communities, media, causes, organizations and businesses, government, the nation and the world.
The drafting and adoption of a code of ethics that underscore the community’s responsibility and maturity; and
The discussion of issues and concerns that confront the community and members of the community
The promotion of more affordable, reliable and better internet access in the country
The association we aspire to form is voluntary in character, national in scope, democratic in decision-making, and progressive in outlook.
We draw inspiration from and ask the participation of the city-wide, provincial, regional and island-wide associations, summits and conventions initiated by bloggers across the country.
We want an association that makes decisions based on democratic processes, consensus-building and mutual benefit.
A long time has passed since the first blog posts and first blogging events. We are now a bigger, stronger and influential community. Businesses, causes and government have started to organize themselves to interact and engage with us. And we also face challenges within and outside our growing community.
The Philippines, our country and people are also expecting more from us, and we bravely and fearlessly say that we want to do more and achieve more.
In view of all these and more, we declare that there’s no stopping the formation of a most awesome bloggers association for our country.
One country, one blogging community.
By posting this manifesto on my blog, I express my desire to be a founding member of the association.
I also nominate the following bloggers to be founding members as well:
Last year, I suggested the creation of a bloggers’ association to some PEBA officers. The idea came from our experiences in the Kabayan Bloggers (KaBlogs), where we have to deal with anti-OFW blog posts and bloggers. However, we brushed off the idea because we lack PEBA volunteers and the time for another huge undertaking.
I received a copy of the manifesto on the making of the National Bloggers Association and these are some of the questions I asked from Tonyo Cruz, one of the brain behind the idea:
• Are the items in themanifesto final?
• Can this be refined?
• Who were given a copy of this manifesto?
• From the line, “The association we aspire to form is voluntary in character, national in scope,” where do the OFWs fit?
• From the line, “We draw inspirations from and ask...” Can OFW bloggers be
also included in this line?
• Can we change the phrase “most awesome bloggers association”? It connotes that PEBA, or other bloggers associations, is not that awesome.
I asked him if I can reply regarding the manifesto the following day but Tonyo said he needs the suggestions pronto so he can share it with others.
After a few days, I was asked by other bloggers in Visayas and Mindanao why they were not informed about the creation of a National Bloggers Association. I asked Tonyo and he said he is going to Visayas and Mindanao to meet the group of bloggers there. I asked him to please make sure that no one will be left out.
I consulted this matter to several officers and volunteers of PEBA. Majority of them have reservations in joining. Aside from the questions above, here are some more questions from the group:
1. What is “national?” Where does PEBA fit in? What is the scope of the National Bloggers Association? PEBA represents the expats and OFWs. The title “national association” limits the reach of this group.
2. What are the guiding principles of the NBA? If it is “to unite the bloggers at a national level,” how can PEBA and other international Pinoy blogging organizations be integrated in its mission-vision?
3. Who will uphold the code of ethics that will be drafted and adapted? Who will say which is right or wrong? What will be our standards?
4. “We draw inspiration from and ask the participation of the city-wide, provincial, regional and island-wide associations, summits and conventions initiated by bloggers across the country.” Again, where is the international Filipino bloggers community here?
Do not use the word “national.” It connotes a limited scope where OFWs and expats are not included.
Organize regional blogs first.
From these regional groups, gather representatives that will create the NBA.
The group should not be used for political agenda.
Consider uniting the Filipino bloggers communities in the Philippines for the NBA first. The PEBA (and other international Filipino blogging communities) can become its partner. If the NBA has already solidified their stand, mission-vision, agenda, etc., then that’s when we consider the integration of both the national and international Filipino blogging communities.