So soon after that dust-up about whether the 13-year-old CarlOcab is really responsible for his remarkably grown-up blog (about which I have my own thoughts, but they're for a later post), Jayvee Fernandez has stirred up another fracas with his accusation that someone was "misrepresenting" the "treasure" that is the Philippine blogosphere in a talk with "industry experts:"
"It is such a sad experience to have a blogger misrepresent the Philippine blogosphere for his or her own merit. Recently, a huge conference was held and some industry folk mentioned a particular blogger who gave such a compelling presentation about the Philippine blogosphere. It was so compelling because it was the first BIG time that the local industry’s eyes were opened to the spectacle that is the Philippine blogosphere."
Quite a mouthful. Because Mr. Fernandez did not bother to name names, his readers were sufficiently intrigued, a number of them demanding that he make his charges specific. That he did in a follow-up post, this time naming Jannette Toral as the culprit. Apparently, Ms. Toral was the invited speaker in a major conference where she talked about the worldwide blogging phenomenon and its local variant.
What got Mr. Fernandez's goat was this: that Ms. Toral had the temerity to cite as examples of the local blogosphere "in action" the projects she had herself initiated.
"The presentation should have used more blog examples outside the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs project, outside Rockista Craze (her daughter), and outside her own blogs," admonished Mr. Fernandez.
Then he went on to enumerate "other blogger-initiated projects that [he feels] Janette should have included in her presentation," among them the Philippine Blog Awards 2007, his own pet project, and the "Blog Parties and Regional Blog Conferences" of which, he neglected to mention, he is often an organizer or active participant.
This isn't the sort of fray I'd like to get into, as my blog hardly touches on the petty politics and puny pissing contests among the local blogging crowd. I also have not met Ms. Toral, even if a sufficient number of bloggers did vote me into her "Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs" project. But I'd like to speak up now, because Mr. Fernandez said something in his first post that literally unnerved me. His parting shot, after unloading the not-so-subtle warning that the unnamed "blogger/speaker may be just a little misguided and I hope it doesn’t happen again," [underscoring mine] was this:
"If bloggers are invited to speak in front of a crowd of industry experts (yay!!!), bear in mind that you bring forward with you the hundreds of personalities of the local blogosphere."
Now, I have a few questions for Mr. Fernandez. Where is it written, exactly, that if we do get to speak about local blogging before a crowd, we automatically become its representative, spokesperson, living embodiment, image model? Why should this be so? What canon of blogging am I violating if, say, I get invited to share my experience about blogging for theater and the arts, which is this site's niche, and I fail to mention that, oh, there are other bloggers and "blog-initiated activities" out there? In what way, for that matter, was Ms. Toral wrong in using examples close to her heart, borne out of her efforts and hard work and that she had expertise on, when talking about this activity?
Take note, Mr. Fernandez, that you yourself were careful to say that Ms. Toral had only cited "examples." In your subsequent post you dissected her Powerpoint presentation, but still you didn't say that she had generalized in any adverse way about local blogging. So what was it that really riled you up?
I have a guess: the fact that she talked about something that you thought you had a better grasp of. You're a blogging pioneer hereabouts, everybody recognizes that, so how dumb was it for the conference organizers to invite someone less knowledgeable about the subject? You simply felt you could have done a better job explaining the big picture. You had the list of examples down pat, capped with this very helpful remark: "It would actually be cool to compile a list of all of these initiations and send them to Janette to help her in the future with her presentations."
I'd like to invite you to listen to yourself for a second, Mr. Fernandez. Don't you realize how condescending that last sentence was? You're showing up Ms. Toral for the inadequate researcher that she was compared to you. Her "misguided" fault, in effect, was blabbing about the local blogosphere without first running the information by you. You could have vetted it first, given it your imprimatur, before it went before the conference and "misrepresented" the community you imagine yourself to be a stalwart caretaker of. The nerve of Ms. Toral to talk about something she hadn't officially received from On High.
Ms. Toral might have missed out on some facts. If this were truly about helping her, you could have e-mailed her your "comments and suggestions" privately. But to publicly characterize her omission as something that "misrepresents... for his or her own merit" is the height of arrogance and hasty judgment. The implication of active malice in what she did is hypocritical, to say the least. A few weeks after I started blogging in September last year a friend dragged me to this bloggers' meet-up at the National Sports Grill in Greenbelt where you, Abe Olandres and Noemi Dado discussed how to make money out of one's blog. What examples did you use? Your own blogs.
I do not particularly care whether you, Mr. Olandres and Ms. Dado talk or not talk about your respective blogs in forums. That's your right. But I do care that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Then it was alright, I suppose, because The Pioneers were the ones talking. Now that an interloper deigns to encroach on territory you think is yours by entitlement, there is only bad faith involved. But no worries, of course, it's a wrinkle that can be easily resolved with one simple gesture, if we parse your parting shot correctly. Next time, Ms. Toral or others of her stripe should be humble enough to receive guidance and tutorship from you before mouthing off.
What if she doesn't want to, Mr. Fernandez? What if she refuses to make use of the Received Wisdom promulgated by you and your clique? That will make you "sad" again that she "misrepresents... for his or her own merit," wouldn't it--enough for you to write an accusatory post that conveniently omits the names but piles on the innuendo?
Datu, a commenter in your blog, is right. This is nothing less than the Mafia, a "barkada of sorts where if you’re not part of the IN group, you get hammered for anything and everything under the sun that they can attack you with." People like us who weren't there at the Glorious Beginning are now saddled with rules promulgated by the gods of local blogging.
First, whenever we speak about blogging, we "bring forward with [us] the hundreds of personalities of the local blogosphere." Never mind that most bloggers can very well speak for themselves and do not need a mouthpiece. Why should I even presume to be a stand-in for the rest? But then, I'm not you, Mr. Fernandez. I cannot make that presumption. That mantle of Manifest Destiny? It's all yours.
Second, we cannot ever cite our blogs as an example of our blogging experience, because it would paint a "misleading" picture of how "vibrant the Philippine blogosphere is."
Or as you put it, "It is very different case when one uses the blogosphere for personal merit."
Pray, how do you use your blog? For charity? You blog about yourself, your projects, your parties, your friends, your guitar-strumming. How is that not for personal merit?
In fact, what if someone like me, speaking about the local blogosphere, deviates from the approved talking points, forgets about being a dang "spokesperson," and says something like, "Some local bloggers are high-hat bullies," citing you and your blog as a specific example, would I be "misrepresenting" there? It's my opinion. I have two of your posts to back me up.
I don't foresee it, since unlike you I don't relish speaking before crowds, but if I do find myself one day talking about my blogging experience before a throng, I'll make sure to NOT follow your advice. I've no wish to be part of the "treasure" that is the Philippine blogosphere if it means living with The Mob.
By the way, editor to editor: it's "flak," not "flack."