Okay, here I am typing this while sick and in bed. I missed Christmas celebrations with the family and will most likely miss New Year’s too. But that is not what makes a bloggable event, right? A bloggable event is something that isn’t run-of-the-mill (although I wouldn’t call my cough and colds run-of-the-mill). It has to have some outstanding (or really deranged) essence in it for it to qualify as bloggable. Something that stands out, oftentimes not repeatable. Must have some meaning in one’s life. In that case, I do have one and nothing beats it hands down –and that is my being part of Blog Watch (a blogger group that was formed without any prior intentions or political intent but became one of the most visible social media groups during the May 2010 elections). One day in September last year, my good blogger friend Noemi (who everyone online knows as momblogger) just asked me out of the blue. “Jane, do you want to join me & some other bloggers to possibly write about the coming May 10 elections?” In my younger years, I saw a lot of action during elections. I was part of the Systems Committee of NAMFREL’s Operation Quick Count (OQC) during the 1984 presidential elections (when Imelda ran for President) and during the 1986 presidential snap elections. But motherhood
dampened tempered my civic enthusiasm somewhat and I felt that my days of citizen activism were over and it was time to settle down to something quiet, boring and unbloggable. But here was Noemi, a mom like me, with no political inclinations, wanting to do her share for the country. How could I refuse? Fast forward to October 2009. A handful of us bloggers met to talk about what we wanted to do as a group, what to write about, and what to call ourselves. I think we all agreed we would write on voter education and spread awareness of candidates’ platforms. We actually spent more time thinking what to call ourselves. After a lot of brainstorming, we decided it would be a 2-word, 1 syllable name so it would be catchy and short. Noemi contributed the word BLOG and I contributed WATCH. For ever and ever, Noemi and I will be in the annals of Blog Watch history for that. Hahahahaha….. Our first exciting adventure event was a demo of the PCOS Machine by COMELEC. Then we began reading up on speeches by the candidates to see how we could put their platforms into a format easily understood by the public.This was followed by a PCIJ training on how to cover the elections plus some election-related fora like those at AIM with some candidates in attendance. But Blog Watch was meant for a bigger role in the scheme of things because before we knew it, Noemi was able to arrange our first interview with a presidential candidate – Manny Villar! To cut the long story short, that first interview led to interview after interview until we eventually covered 7 of the 9 presidential candidates, some vice-presidential candidates, senatoriables and local government candidates as well. This foray into the unknown world of politics and media coverage was really a trial and error thing for bloggers like us who were comfortable behind a laptop but were suddenly thrust into the limelight. We suddenly became interesting news – this small group of bloggers who were interviewing candidates & broadcasting the interviews raw and live via livestream. Blog Watch was invited a few times to ABS-CBN as well as a segment on radio.
And, for the first time ever, we were reluctantly placed IN FRONT OF a real, live, TV camera when Global Destiny Cable asked us to cover the elections live! (Blog Watch had tied up with 100Araw.com and we called ourselves #juanvote). What an experience that one was. You had to think on your toes. Ok, who says what next? Where do I look? Which camera is on? Let me just say I was relieved when THAT was over!
What makes this a truly bloggable event is the fact that bloggers have made inroads in areas where we are considered newbies and where bloggers have never gone before. We have never interviewed politicians. We have never appeared in front of TV cameras nationwide for such a big event. All we had were our usual blogging equipment (laptops, mobile phones, digicams, videocams) and yet we were able to produce interview podcasts, well-written published articles and beautiful photos chronicling the months in the run-up to the May 2010 elections.
When President Noynoy Aquino was declared the winner in the presidential race, Blog Watch was given the rare privilege of covering at least 4 post-election events.
If you’re wondering how Noemi and I got from Luneta to Malacanang on the same day going from casuals to Filipiniana, let me tell you that it is no joke to look for a clean restaurant so you can do an instant costume change while trying to find Malacanang via Google Maps (as we did not know how the heck to get to the Palace, hahaha). Thank goodness we passed a Starbucks branch on the way to Malacanang (you should have seen the raised eyebrows we got from Starbucks customers when we came out in full Filipiniana attire)! This must be how Superman feels every time he has to go “on call”…
Now that I think of it, 2010 was truly FULL in terms of bloggables. I believe that Blog Watch was able to help manifest the growing power of social media and citizen journalism. Citizen journalism and vigilance was highlighted to the hilt and the present Administration is now trying to see how social media can play a role in helping government keep watch.
Here’s what someone on the PNoy team told me.
At the beginning of the campaigns in late 2009, they placed social media influence at only 2%. By end of the elections, the influence of social media (and I believe a great chunk of this was contributed by Blog Watch) was estimated by them to be at a whopping 16%.
So, watch out 2013/2016 elections. Blog Watch will be there!
And oh, by the way, we just turned ONE! Yippppeeee!