of emergencies and revolutions

I was just beginning to take in the news of the State of Emergency declaration last Friday when it already brought me my very own state of emergency – calling from lunch, my boss decided that we should release an advisory/briefer on the unfolding developments to all our clients, asap.  That meant that we underlings had to rush around to start gathering the materials and preparing the initial draft of the advisory, find out things like, oh, what’s a state of emergency anyway – get me a copy of the constitution dammit – can we ask for a copy of the proclamation from malacañang (good luck) – what the hell’s going on – and, of course, what does this all mean? For our clients, for the economy, for the people, for the country?

And it was at this point that the beauty of blogging came in (no, this is not an entry about the state of emergency per se, as I will tell you later you can find things on that elsewhere). My thirst for information was fortunately slaked by the TV at the other side of the office, by the heavily-accessed and therefore occasionally down INQ7 website and, more importantly, by the PCIJ blog. The inquirer website provided breaking news, photographs, interviews; beyond that, the PCIJ blog, probably less hampered by the usual editorial processes, gave some behind the scenes insights, preliminary analysis, reference materials (including the much-wanted copy of Proclamation 1017, first as a pdf of the scanned document and later as complete text), even links to other blogs also featuring entries on the developments.  It was just a matter of clicking the ‘refresh’ button to get the latest updates.  The information was literally at my fingertips, and coming at me as fast as I could want it.

For me, at least, this is where blogging came of age in this country.  The blog has been emerging as a credible source of information of late, so much so that there have been instances of blog content being pirated for use in traditional print media, but here, where the blog became an even more reliable and faster source of information than the traditional media forms, you can see there’s really something revolutionary going on.  Applying it to the PR industry where I belong, it’s part of what Richard Edelman calls the  Me2 revolution, in which the traditional top-down, one-to-many model of communication is now being replaced by “a peer-to-peer, horizontal discussion among multiple stakeholders” (and no, I’m not just plugging it here because my firm is part of the Edelman network).  In the past few days, as I accessed blogs, websites, read blogger comments and analysis, and prepared my own take on things, it definitely facilitated my being a participant in the nation’s collective effort at making sense of it all.

When Marcos signed the declaration of martial law it actually took a few days before he decided it should be worthy of being announced; now, before a president can stick anything like that into a drawer somebody’s bound to get it somehow and post it online.

It’s not just the military unrest, or the posturings of the members of the opposition, that the President should be wary of.  In this day and age, it’s really tricky to fool around with the people’s right to information and freedom of expression, and I hope she knows that.

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