BLOGGING AND FREEDOM

June 13, 2006

There is something happening in the cyberspace that recently caught the literary world by the forelock—the blogging phenomenon. And same as the preponderance of various e-groups, it promises a venue for a free exchange of ideas. And recently, I have come to the knowledge that there will be a workshop on blogging and that it is free and only a few will be granted admission. I also learned that even those based in the province are welcome to apply and will be provided fare and accommodation.

My bio reveals that I am a writer and I am from Bicol. I have started a blog called Hagbayon and it can serve as sample of my works pertinent to the requirements of the workshop. Now this writer is interested because of the following reasons: a. Blogging is very important in relation with Bikol literary arts, b. it is also a tool for discursive formation, and c. the cyberspace has become an extension of the physical/biological world.

One cannot avoid bloggers when doing research in contemporary Bikol literature. Perhaps this is analogous to the Filipino’s obsession with diplomas. Four hundred years of political subjugation and educational deprivation seemed to have turned us into school hugs and fanatics of academic titles. In the same vein, the Bikol writer/scholar is faced with scarcity of publications and materials both invaluable for artistic exposure and research. So much that almost all of them compensated for this lack by putting up a blog. That is why they are all over the place.

Now the Hagbayon blog is a place where I share not only my insights but also the latest happening in Bikol literary circles—reasserting that indeed Bikol literature never died. There, people will know that we do have our own regional creative writing workshop, publications and award-giving bodies. And that we have regular poetry readings and literary lectures.

Louis Althusser, in his theory of over-determinism categorized publications as ISA’s or Ideological State Apparatuses. Now, blogs are faster than your average newspaper or opinion page. They can be updated in no time and can be accessed anywhere with a phone line. There lies its power. Blogs are an integral part of society’s discursive formation and only prove that in the cyberspace there are, as Michel Foucault would say, ‘discursive constellations’.

Now existence as we know it has forever changed. From a Harvard academic to a teenage problematic, from a Starbucks Makati yuppie to a tuba-drinking tigsikero, from an avid GMA supporter to an agitated activist—they all extend the biosphere into a contagious electronic reality. We hook our modems and enter into discourse, a la Matrix.

During the Medieval Era, the Catholic Church had the monopoly of truth. Life was theocentric and was bounded by traditional thinking. And then the printing press plus other breakthroughs introduced new insights and findings. So much that the ‘enlightened’ ones became logocentric, worshipping the scientific method. But the question as to whose reason was more reasonable arose. And so postmodernism ensued, advocating that human reason is dynamic and may be defined by culture. With blogging, everybody is empowered including even the marginalized. “The Empire Strikes Back” as Bill Ashcroft would say.

Yet with a blog, one can try to be radical. I use the word ‘try’ because freedom is an over-determinism, ideology being both conscious and unconscious, the peak and the submerged part of the iceberg extant. Some part of you may be traditional while you claim to be a postmodernist.

But then blogging can help one shape him/herself as he/she shapes others. Like the dialectic of ideological formation and the ‘common notion of things’. We create an ideological pool in the electronic world—a network of blogs.

In China, the government shuts down blogs. This phenomenon has made a more politically mature people able to think critically and express themselves to the point of earning the government’s ire. And we hope to have a similar situation in our country. Perhaps blogging can make us better voters and citizens.

With all these in mind, I intend to join the workshop because I need all the inputs it can give me in making Hagbayon a better and more presentable blog for the progress of Bikol literature. I would also love to meet fellow bloggers and exchange ideas with them. Blogging is nothing but a sign of a freer tomorrow.

–Jose Jason L. Chancoco

   Naga City
   June 8, 2006

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