(super disclaimer -- I am no expert at Mindanao issues, nor do I claim to be)
If you're anything like me, you probably don't understand the nuances of the Mindanao conflict. What's happening in Mindanao, the continuous conflict between rebel groups + government troops, the prickly peace agreements, the clan feuds, etc. -- these are long-running issues that someone like me will never fully grasp or understand. Today, I tried to catch up to what was happening in Zamboanga and found myself almost at an utter loss to really explain it or get to the root of the problem. My background seems to have built itself into a silo that will never truly understand the difficulties of what a Mindanaoan would go through. I'm a twenty-something year old Catholic living in Manila. I've never found myself in the minority in this country before. I've lived in Luzon most of my life and my descendants hail from Visayas. I will never be comfortable speaking about the Mindanao crisis. But this Zamboanga crisis is precisely the wake-up call for the rest of us living in blissful ignorance as the majority.
My apologies for not blogging more! Been really busy organizing a big event for work and it's only just wrapping up (one last day and then done!). Work has been really tough lately.
Anyway, one good thing that came out from organizing my event is an opportunity to meet with Rappler, "a social news network where stories inspire community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change." It's a fairly new network but one that I've gotten fond of fairly quickly for their ability to get real-time information but in an engaging, innovative setting. Rappler, though new and of course, not perfect, feels like it challenges traditional media by making it accessible -- meaning normal everyday people have the ability to choose and feel what kind of news they want to know about (mood meters, et. al) and at the same time be able to be part of the news as well. Of course, it's still anchored on journalism and reporting, etc. (I don't know what the terms are called!) but it's a fresh new take on news.
Rappler met with us and discussed a number of topics, such as Project Agos (which I will tackle in a different post, because I'm half in love with it already) but on the anniversary of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana to the international world) -- and as a sidenote, coincidentally, probably the anniversary of the birth of my humanitarian career -- Rappler invited me to take part in a Google hang-out entitled "Learning from the Rains." The hangout invited some of the well-known social media people of the Philippines (plus me, but I'm not one of them!) and talked about the evolvement of social media in disaster response since then.
It was my first Google hangout (ever. So that's how these things work!) but it was very interesting. One of the things I truly love about social media is its ability to improve humanitarian work but it was very different being in a panel with people who were primarily social media experts in their own way, rather than coming from a humanitarian view. One thing I can definitely say I come away with from that hour-long panel is that both social media + humanitarian worlds have a lot to learn and innovate from each other. And ye gods, it's going to be exciting if and when they do!
Here's basically what the Rappler hangout was about and the video of the hangout:
Abbi is a petite human, blogger, amateur photographer, permanent humanitarian, avid traveller, culture addict, giant bookworm and impossible foodie.