Eights months before the Philippines elects its 16th president, an active group of netizens are gearing up for a comprehensive coverage of another important chapter in the nation’s history.
Blog Watch—a citizen’s election project that makes use of social networks and multimedia platforms and The Philippine Online Chronicles (www.thepoc.net), a pioneering online media network and news curator; announced today the start of its 2016 presidential elections coverage as well as #juanvote—a network of netizens that utilize technology in order to expose electoral fraud and violence, and to document the entire election process.
The partnership was announced during a media forum entitled “iVote, iWatch: Citizens Engaging and Watching Government for a Better Philippines” held at the Commune Café in Makati. The event gathered both members of the print media as well as the growing online network of bloggers, news aggregators, social media personalities, and other non-traditional sources of news.
A platform for citizen media
During the program, Blog Watch, represented by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado and Jane Uymatiao discussed the important role of their group which is composed of 16-year-old to 60-plus-something citizen advocates, independent-minded bloggers, and social media users who use the power of the pen and its collective voice, as well as the individual online voices of its members, to continue pushing for social change, and to serve as nonpartisan citizens’ watchdog and collective conscience for transparence and good governance.
Blog Watch aims to promote proactive and constructive citizen engagement by netizens on cyberspace and offline with all stakeholders working for a better Philippines. Its members use various social media networking sites and multimedia platforms to convey these stories through news articles, opinion editorials, photos, videos, podcasts, and social media engagement.
Among the projects Blog Watch has collaborated on are #juanvote—Filipino netizens for honest, orderly, and peaceful elections and #epalwatch—a shame campaign against grandstanding, self-promoting “epal” public officials.
In 2010, #juanvote became the first social media coverage by citizens on election day and that was only the beginning. It continued for the May 2013 elections and will deliver again for the 2016 national elections.
The citizen media platforms for the articles and opinion editorials are (a) BlogWatch.ph, hosted by www.thepoc.net of Vibal Foundation, where all articles can be shared freely through Creative Commons license; content is curated and contextualized by information from traditional media, opinions, primary interviews, and various social media platforms; and (b) BlogWatch.tv, where social media users and volunteers contribute their content.
Blog Watch is not affiliated with any political group or party and does its best to remain nonpartisan by publishing, to the fullest extent possible, all sides of an issue. For transparency, Blog Watchers are obliged to disclose in their profiles any close affiliations with a politician, high government official, or political party.
POC’s unique channels
During the program, thepoc.net also presented its unique channels that are creating a growing following among online readers. These are POC Youth, Pinoy LGBT, and Parokya sa Web.
POC Youth features pieces written by the youth regarding social issues. The Pinoy LGBT channel provides a venue to address the issues faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer community, while Parokya sa Web features reflections and views on social causes and issues by the inimitable Fr. Robert Reyes, a.k.a the “Running Priest.”
Such diversity fuels thepoc.net, such that it remains relevant as one of the leading sources of alternative news and views even if it was launched seven years ago. Today, the site has established a reputation for its innovative and pioneering efforts for presenting a multiplicity of perspectives in a single article. It reports facts of the news as well as viewpoints on the news. POC does not confine itself to mainstream news sources but actively cultivates less heard voices like blogs, student newspapers, social media, and alternative publications.
The Philippine Online Chronicles is a project of Vibal Foundation, Vibal Group’s philanthropic arm that aims to nurture Filipino literacy and to help readers access Philippine culture and heritage through different digital and social media platforms. The foundation aims to make a difference by promoting both print and digital literacy, learning, cultural awareness and preservation, and great teaching. This is achieved through collaborations with leading businesses, civic organizations, and other non-profits to increase and diffuse knowledge; share good practices; foster innovation; and find workable solutions to the educational disadvantages facing millions of young people and adults across the Philippines.
For more information, go to www.thepoc.net or visit www.vibalfoundation.org.