Blogging for Peace
It had been quite a spell since I was first invited to talk about “blogging for peace”, so I was happy to have had the chance again two weeks ago in Zamboanga City. The first time was in Hong Kong in November 2009 — it wasn’t really my assigned topic, but I emphasized in my talk that blogging could become an instrument for achieving peace. This time in Zamboanga, it was for a multicultural group of high school students.
The group of 20 students were invited from different high schools, with a few out-of-school youths as well. They were a good mix of Christians, Muslims and lumad (or indigenous peoples). They were all talented, eager to speak out and ready to learn. It was a pleasure talking to them about blogging and showing them how to go about creating their own blogs — although, as I expected, about half of them were already blogging on their own.
This activity was part of the seminar-workshop on The Use of ICT in Conflict and Post-Conflict Areas, organized by the Asian Institute of Journalism & Communication and funded by UNESCO. It was held at the National Computer Center in Zamboanga City, from 3 to 5 August 2011.
Before my workshop, each participant was asked to write an essay on peace: their own take on it and how they thought it could be achieved. I then asked them to post their essays on their blogs — here are some of them:
A few of those young people certainly had unique and very thoughtful ideas. Listening to them, I felt that our future isn’t so bleak after all, what with future leaders possibly from among that group.
I do hope that more of such seminar-workshops would be held, and in other areas of Mindanao.
After the event in Zamboanga, I went to Tawi-Tawi. Although I had a different objective there, I had hoped I’d get to meet bloggers there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to. Still, I did get to meet a handful of college students who were knowledgeable in blogging. None of them blogged, however, because they said they didn’t have internet connectivity at home.
Going around Tawi-Tawi’s capital, Bongao (which can be reached via Air Philippines from Zamboanga City), I noticed quite a few internet cafés in town. Some of the locals told me that, sadly, those places were used more for computer games than anything approaching educational. (This problem sounds really familiar…)
On the other hand, I saw a number of academic institutions on Bongao Island. Mindanao State University has a campus there, and there is also the Notre Dame of Bongao College. There’s even a computer school, called the Abubakar Computer Learning Center.
My wish is to be able to go to more places in Mindanao and spread the word about blogging and the power it holds for promoting peace.