A movement without structure cannot last. Fragmented movements self-destruct. Eventually, bloggers will need to come together around particular issues. So, the formation of a National Bloggers Association (NBA) was no surprise. However, many bloggers across the Philippines find blogging personal not business.
The NBA was suggested in the aftermath of the "Big Bad Blogger Issue". The issue concerned a marketing group earning hundreds of thousands of pesos by exploiting a blogger while paying him a only a few thousand pesos to gather fellow bloggers for events and encouraging them to write reviews. From this perspective, the unethical behaviour of the marketing group needs regulating. They effectively sold the results achieved by the blogger without disclosing this and without fair compensation. So, was "Big Bad Blogger" really the culprit? If anything, he is ignorant or naive--this blogger performed work without understanding the terms and the context undervalueing his worth as an "organizer" when the PR firm hired him not solely as a blogger but rather as a someone to deliver the results for their clients.
• Personal Blogging is self-regulating. I have learned new things in my few months as a president. When I proposed a code of ethics, a colleague told I that it was "over-thinking." I heard nothing from my fellow officers. No one complained but no one endorsed it either. I silently took it as their polite way of saying no. I ran through it and decided to scrap it. It could be a useful instrument to persuade some bloggers to consider their actions more carefully--but in context, it was unnecessary. That is how I view the manifesto now. A majority of bloggers blog for their own pleasure. One's pleasure is private--you cannot regulate what's private.
• The internet promotes opinion - not just facts. You cannot regulate a person's opinion. If one writes opinion or fiction, if no one reads it, who cares. If somebody is, and the reader's opinion proves to be more informed than the writer's, or is based on facts, the writer could be either embarrassed or face a lawsuit.
• National Bloggers Association is a name that misleads. The NBA manifesto serves only bloggers who earn significant incomes from blogging--but would disadvantage the majority of bloggers in the Philippines. An e-mail from an NBA organizer notes that income would be a factor considered for membership in the organization. Most bloggers do not earn from blogging. Most bloggers blog to create an outlet for their creativity and care little about influencing the mainstream.
• An association for the select few - the content and context of a blogger matters. Political commentary should be held to a different standard than restaurant reviews. Likewise, accountability varies according to your subject matter and the number of readers. If a group of people create an association to improve political or tech or any bloggers whose posts require rigorous fact checking, that would be great. These associations will be embraced as they support bloggers who wish to create a more professional niche blog. But these associations do not represent the bloggers as a whole.
• One country, one blogging community - it is not. The beauty and the curse of blogging is each blogger is his/her own community. There are many opinions and this is powerful. You do not want to minimize this voice.
The proposed National Bloggers Association has raised concern among a variety of bloggers and readers for different reasons:
1. Organizers were mainly from Luzon. A "national organization" connotes representation from different parts of the Philippines, from existing blogging communities with delegates or representatives of their their local organization. No representations from Cagayan de Oro Bloggers, Davao Bloggers, Socksargen Bloggers, Zamboanga, Ilo-Ilo, Buikidnon, and Iligan were asked to participate or even concurr with the proposed organization.
2. Blogging communities from Visayas and Mindanao were offended by this action--forming NBA without genuine consultation. It reminds us of the days of Imperial Manila. Blogging communities from these areas are well-established and highly organized (whilst we have never heard of "Manila Bloggers")-- Socksargen Bloggers spearheaded the well celebrated Blogfest 2011 where more than 150 bloggers converged and has just finished the Socksargen Experience Tour (SEX Tour) where bloggers from different areas flew in to Gen San to take part in this activity. Davao Bloggers, under Ms. Ria Jose's presidency last year, organized WordCamp2010 in Manila with 300+ attendees, the highest number of people attending wordcamp worldwide. For 2011, DavaoBloggers has participated in Demystifying Postmodernism, a forum tackling women's issues, embarked on a Tagum Photo Safari, celebrated the 3rd International Rondalla with the city government of Tagum, and through Avatar Media, will cover the Davao Food Appreciation Tour with other bloggers from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
3. Blogging communities suspect they were not consulted because one of the founding members is the head of Mindanao Bloggers. Most conclude a misunderstanding has happened and maybe an assumption existing that blogging communities in Mindanao may be under Mindanao Bloggers Group and that it is rightfully representing these communities. Mindanao Bloggers Group does not represent Davao Bloggers, Cagayan de Oro Bloggers, Socksargen Bloggers, Zamboanga Bloggers, Ilo-Ilo Bloggers, and Iligan bloggers, or any blogging community in Mindanao.
4. The issuance of draft was only sent to select bloggers.
5. It was labeled: Not for circulation.