Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tapping social media influencers to inform or mis-inform?

My blog post article on Gina Lopez and Senator Chiz Escudero got me in an interesting conversation with a few friends this past 2 days. Bottom line, I was asked, what do I intend to achieve in writing them?

1. On Gina Lopez and EDC
When she spoke at the Visayas Blogging Summit, she went onstage with an appeal asking bloggers to take a stand on mining and support her petition signing campaign. We were given copies of her presentation that got us introduced to Gerry Ortega in the process.

When word about former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes being spared by the Court of Appeals from having a case being filed to, I can't help but wonder, how will he put his life back to normal (since he went into hiding ala Sen. Panfilo Lacson when he was being hunted for a criminal case being filed against him)?

Will Joel Reyes even get an apology from all those who accused him for being the mastermind of a crime? If Gina Lopez also accused him, will she apologize and take accountability for what she said?

When EDC got into environmental problems, shouldn't leadership be exercise as well by Gina Lopez since that entity belongs to their family and she has been vocal pointing out damages caused by other entities?

I think her being quiet heavily affects the relationship she has built with those of us who took her seriously and believe in her at the Visayas Blogging Summit. Especially for those who took the time to spread her presentation, online petition, and videos. At least on my end, I know that I took her very seriously.

If she will remain quiet and not say anything, it will heavily affect my confidence for whatever she will ask bloggers to take action on in the near future.

If I have become misinformed in the process, I will also feel betrayed.

2. On Senator Chiz Escudero

My writings about Senator Chiz Escudero were heavily influenced by my exposure to his first online chat (when he first ran as a Senator) and observing his insane popularity.

Just yesterday, I saw this taxi advertisement that had him as endorser for a paint brand. If I'm not mistaken, he has quite a number of, if not the most, product endorsements in the past 6 months. You hardly see anyone complaining about it. But yet, you see social media users ranting when ads of two Senator candidates sharing their advocacy went on air too.

Although a friend has informed me that his popularity already dipped because of recent controversies surrounding him and Heart's parents.

But as I said in my previous blog, without a doubt, he will definitely win this coming election.

Mass persuasion

I think what Gina Lopez and Senator Chiz Escudero have in common is that they are excellent communicators, commands a high level of trust, and have a gift of mass persuasion.

But then again, each one of us is a social media influencer. Their popularity is also magnified by people like you and me who spread the word about them.

If we have helped in the past in spreading the word about them and their advocacies - and having doubts at the moment, I think it is important for that to be articulated and let those who interacted with us then and now help process our thoughts on this subject.

When I also read of bloggers arguing with each other on various issues, attacking other people, among others, it makes me think as well on what kind of social media influencers do we want to be?

Handling your influence with responsibility
I think each one of us should be responsible and accountable to what we say online, especially if it involves other people. We also need to think on when do we tackle concerns privately and when do we drag other people who may be clueless to an issue.

Furthermore, decide when prominent personalities reach out to us, do we just let ourselves get carried away with their big statements or should we investigate things further?

How do I make sure that I don't get blinded by whatever perceived influence I may have and cause harm to others?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chiz Escudero: Losing Heart?

Anol Mongaya's Sunstar column recently mentioned my observation on a blog post I wrote about Chiz Escudero's campaign strategy last year - which I felt then was heavily anchored on Heart Evangelista.

It is like playing a one word game with Mo Twister and you get asked with the question about the candidates: (this is what I will likely answer)
  • Chiz Escudero - Heart
  • Loren Legarda - environment
  • Grace Poe - FPJ
  • Nancy Binay - VP
  • Cynthia Villar - OFW
  • Alan Peter Cayetano - change
  • Bam Aquino - Noynoy
  • Ramon Magsaysay Jr. - E-Commerce
In the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit in Cebu last year, I shared my lesson learned in this blog post experiment asking how people rate Senator Chiz Escudero's performance and whether he will be voted for a 2nd term.

Based on the comments and blog post reactions (and the comments they got), Chiz Escudero can easily make any politician envious. He is perceived as a lesser evil. That even if his legislative performance is not as stellar in comparison to his peers as a Senator in the past 6 years, he enjoys a high level of influence (trust, authority, coverage exposure, and popularity).

Furthermore, I am also amazed how people can also be so forgiving and understanding of him. In a discussion with bloggers a few weeks ago, they were criticizing a Senator candidate for a blooper she has made. Despite the apology of this candidate, he vowed not to vote for her anymore. 

Then I asked him, "if Senator Chiz Escudero was the one who did that blooper and also apologized, would you have the same reaction?" He got my point from there.

In fact, monitoring the Twitter feed about the 2013 candidates got me all amused. As observed last year and until now, Chiz Escudero's twitter buzz is all about Heart Evangelista.

So yeah, there you go. I guess future aspiring Senators should look at the following if they desire public office position:
1. Speak well in Tagalog.
2. Huwag maging pala-away. Choose your battles well and always take the respectful higher ground.
3. Have a yuppie-approachable-fit persona. Be perceived as someone's brother or sister - rather than a parent if you are not that old.
4. Be friends with personalities in the entertainment industry.

Senator Chiz Escudero for sure will win the 2013 elections. His relationship with Heart Evangelista going strong, despite her parents disapproval, will likely do him good especially among love fanatics. Worst, media is even feasting on it giving more exposure to Senator Chiz Escudero who now appears as an underdog in this situation.

I just hope that he won't be #1 in the overall results for that will only magnify the kind of voters that we have. How popularity, trustworthy perception, rather than performance, track record, potential, rules the day in our minds.

It will also seem to be unfair to other candidates who are focusing on issues in their campaign trails and discussing them out there. I'm sure even Sen. Chiz Escudero is also doing the same but only his "Heart" side is the one getting the most exposure in the media.

Friday, March 22, 2013

EDC, Philex, Semirara: Fairness and Consistency on Mining and Environment Violation / Penalties

When I first heard of Gina Lopez spoke at the Visayas Blogging Summit on why people should take a stand on mining, I was impressed on how she got most of us teary-eyed. But an hour or two after her talk, I was confused. Nowhere in her talk did she discussed that their family was also into mining. Furthermore, the impression I got was her passion on this issue was sparked by the death of environmentalist Gerry Ortega.

But when news broke out yesterday that former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes was cleared by the Court of Appeals, it reminded me of a recent news about one of Lopez group owned energy company - EDC - that their Leyte site also experienced landslides.

What was noticeable is the lack of spotlight from government officials, local Leyte government, and politicians giving their take on it in comparison to other similar incidents. I can't help but wonder if the observation of Ducky Paredes was true - are they getting special treatment? Although there were news on people being honored for helping out in the search operations.

The perceived slow response from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (who just finished its investigation) or Pollution Adjudication Board makes me wonder how come the landslide that happened in a coal mining pit on Semirara Island immediately benefited action from the Department of Energy, on orders of President Benigno Aquino III for an immediate suspension of Semirara Coal and Mining Company.

Although to the Department of Labor and Employment's credit, at least there was some action taken in the form of work stoppage.

Based on what I read, EDC, who lost 14 workers and reportedly to have spilled Boron into a river, did not immediately got a suspension. Unlike Philex Mining who got hit with an immediate suspension of operations with over a billion pesos in fines, for an accident in the past. The amount of effort Philex Mining took to gain that confidence back was a lot.

It is sad when politicians, media, and the church meddle on mining issues in a way that is not fair, consistent, and just. Further sad is when environmentalist groups become inconsistent as well on which mining issue they will speak up and criticize.

Will the 2013 elections change that? Who among our Senator candidates are committed to fairness and consistency of penalties? I don't know.

How does all of these news and quietness of Gina Lopez affect her advocacy stand?