Wednesday, July 25, 2012

JoeAm's "Top 5 Most Influential Bloggers in the Philippines"


I have spent several days reviewing every blog site I can get my link-clicker on. It is amazing how many blogs are out there dealing with the Philippine condition. All  you do is take one blog roll and it leads to another and another and soon you have about 100 sites on hand. Half of them are expired, some are lazy and slow, and others are active.  Lawyers, educators, politicians, satirists, priests, journalists, retired Americans, screenwriters . . . a wide range.

I'm sorry I can't do justice to the quality writing that is out there. There are some great commentaries, generally lost in the internet woods, I fear. There are just too many sites to keep up with.

A lot of the sites are what I would call vanity blogs. Infrequent articles, not a lot of audience or commentary. Just the writer taking the opportunity to spout off about something. Often eloquently.

Well, to pick the top bloggers, it is important to have some criteria, some guidelines, some standards. What makes one blog site "better" than another?  It is not the political or social agenda some take up (anti-Aquino or pro-RH, for instance). There's nothing wrong with having an ideology and passion.  It has something to do with being pertinent to the Philippine condition, being well-written and thought provoking, and, indeed, being popular. The more people it reaches, if quality and pertinence are identical, the better it is.

Of course, if it is trash, more chat-room than intellectual, it is not "better" than a less popular but more substantial set of articles and comments.

Get Real Contributor
I think reader comments say a lot, actually, about the quality of a blog. That's why, by definition, I only have considered the "engaging" blogs, those which welcome dialogue and foster discussion. One-way reports may be news or commentary, but it is not the kind of rich blogging I'm trying to recognize.

It is easy to find sites that address the Philippine condition. It is sometimes difficult to say which is more important. Popularity or quality. Take the case of MLQIII who rarely blogs, but offers extraordinarily well-researched and thoughtful pieces. Where do you put him?

I have concocted a scale to sort this out It is called the "JoeAm Influence-o-meter". MLQIII ranks low because he simply is not out there enough.

And what about Rappler? Is that a blog site? Or sites that repost what others have written?  Friend manuelbuencamino's articles appear on perhaps five or more different blogs. Well, I put Rappler in the category of a "news and commentary" site, not a blog site. It is not built on dialogue. And sites that collect and reblog posts from elsewhere do not offer the original thought that makes up what I call a "well-written" article.

Rappler is on my daily reads, but it is not a blog site where dialogue is prominent.

What about sites like Get Real Post that have intelligent commentary but also a lot of chat-room interplay and insults, and which even encourage personal attacks if it advances the agenda? Is there a penalty for that?

You damn betcha.

If you are building, you are building. If you are tearing down, you are not building. Indeed, insult is aimed at driving away commentary, so it would be the opposite of "engaging". Furthermore, a part of JoeAm's influence evaluation has to do with the fundamental goal of building a BETTER Philippine condition. Not replicating the venom and vendetta that makes a WORSE Philippine condition.

Here are JoeAm's "Top 5 Engaging Filipino Bloggers":

Raissa Robles
  1. Raissa Robles offers by far the most active blogging site in the Philippines. Inputs range in the thousands for some article. Some of the comments are "toss-offs" but many offer important perspectives that build on the original article. There are so many comments that she has to employ a decimal system of indexing them. The articles are topical, varied and well written. Many have just the right kind of "edge" to provoke healthy discussion. Without a doubt, Raissa is the number one blogger in the Philippines.

  1. Noemi Dado is the principal behind three blogging sites: (a) blogwatch.ph, (b) blogwatch.tv and (c ) momblogger.  The .ph site offers high quality articles, well-written and pertinent to the Philippine condition; comment is rare. The .tv site offers timely social/political news, advocacies and commentary; it ran a daily account of the Corona trial, for instance; comments are light. The momblogger site deals with family issues and health, a "wholesome" perspective; it has a little more commentary. I have no idea why Noemi runs three separate efforts rather than one integrated effort. The main drawback to the persistent run of articles is the lack of vibrant discussion. The advantage is the volume of very timely and topical articles, well written, including advocacy pieces that are most enlightening. Dividing the effort over three sites seems . . . oh, unfocused. [N: Sorry for the original misspelling; I call my daughters by the wrong names, too. Joe)

  1. Ellen Tordisillas is a journalist with a viewpoint and she offers them on two sites: ellentordesillas, which is commentary on the Philippine condition from several contributors, and The Vera Files, which is more or less an investigative journalism site ("Truth Is Our Business"). The articles are timely, topical and well written. Commentary is sometimes rich, often thin. She gets articles from numerous contributors. Again, having two different blogs seems to dilute the impact, and duplicate some content.

  1. Benigno operates Get Real Post with a stable of good writers who follow his anti-Aquino agenda and pull in fairly active discussion. Ilda, especially attracts a good amount of commentary. The site includes active business, entertainment and technology sections, as well as articles about the Philippine condition. GRP gets dinged for tolerating abuse in favor of its agenda, the outcome of which is active commentary from "friends" and little of the constructive oppositional discussion that leads to fresh thinking. It may be my bias speaking, but the site seems to be getting smaller and tinnier, not deeper and richer.

The Real Joe Am?
  1. The rest of us. I don't see anyone else close, but maybe I missed something fro the trampling of the blogging herds. BongV at AntiPinoy is off in his strident statistical land.  Cocoy can't quite seem to get ProPinoy untracked, perhaps because it is not a primary effort for him. Joe Am is unique in style and American perspective, and is on the rise, but doesn't yet have broad reach. There are some excellent topical sites out there: for economics, for updates on the Judiciary, for satire, for perspectives from priests. They aren't active enough to sustain much power on their own.

I'm amused by the vision of blogging as being similar to the Philippines itself. Very tribal (fractionalized) and ego-bound. Missing is the unity, the community, that makes it a powerful force. The defunct Filipino Voices came closest to representing an integrated community of bloggers without political agenda, where wide-ranging comments were offered. It died from lack of editorial attention and jealous in-fighting amongst the participating readers and writers.

Perhaps we'll see some enterprising soul take several the existing blogs and put them together in a new influential force that might give Raissa come competition.

Or I'll just have to persuade Boo to write some more fine critiques and leverage JoeAm to a broader audience.

32 comments:

  1. Hey Joe.

    Saw your comment on my post in Raissa's blog.

    Re no. 4 top blog, Get Real Post, there is no way for them to grow because they offer nothing for the country's ills that they point out.

    Anyone who goes there feels bad afterwards, so most of them dont come back.

    There's only a few diehards who like the shit that the writers there put out and like to roll in that shit, consistent with their self-loathing. :)

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    1. So much potential . . . so little fulfillment . . .

      Delete
  2. What about:

    o Jim Paredes - "Writing on Air" for things zen
    o Jester - "Article VIII" for things judicial

    Disagree that blogging should be an "integrated community". As C.K. Louis says, "All dialogue is positive".

    I guess the important thing is to conduct the dialogue with civility, always accepting the possibility that we could be wrong. As we most often are - present company excepted!

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    1. Yes, the two bloggers you mention are two of the "eloquent" writers I cite. They really don't blog frequently, and the comments are not extensive, but they are definitely worth flagging for read.

      Point taken, blogging does not have to be an integrated community to be influential. With today's ability to automatically track blogs, it is easy to read individual efforts.

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    2. I must admit, me coming from the time warp...I saw Jim Paredes site and I thought he goodlooking in old ages, Apo singer wish I've met him my prime time :)lol a blogger now? I find him a bit nosey lol!but nice!

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    3. I have had second thoughts about your idea of an integrated community. I think what is needed is a kind of wiki (WikiPinoy or Pinoypedia) that would organize blog output. Like Wikipedia, it would arrange pages by topic; each topic would have a summary; optionally each topic could have subtopics with a navigation panel; and it would provide links to blogger pages that have covered the topic. Other links to relevant white papers, official documents, books, videos and other media could be added to the mix.

      Indexing your blog and Ellen's would be relatively easy, but Raissa's might prove difficult because of the volume of off-topic threads (the comments there, like oversea Pinoys, are all over the place).

      The blogs have a wealth of material, both problems and solutions, and it would be waste if this material is not harnessed. A wiki would provide the necessary organization .

      Some issues that need to be resolved are the level of access and the question of funding. As to the latter, it cannot be governmental for reasons of censorship and control. The project must be funded by donations, certainly in small part by concerned citizens, and perhaps in bigger part by big business. Taxes from religious organizations would be most fitting; after all, they claim to have the truth.

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    4. Creative problems solving. Fantastic. I bet such a site would become very popular if organized correctly. With ads, it could make good money. Rather like the new "Philippine Daily", the first place people go to get a custom search of what's going on in news and blogging. Brilliant, actually.

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  3. Raissa's blog can be likened to one's high school or college hang-out. You drop in regularly to be with people you like. You are bound together by either a common interest (sport, hobby..), a shared history (same schools previously attended, same locality from..), or a common goal or aspiration (become doctors, lawyers..).

    In Raissa's blog you get all three. Everyone there is interested in what is happening in their country and wants to be engaged. With the exception of a few occasional hecklers, they all seem to want only what is best for the Philippines. They are a mix bag of Filipinos from all walks of life and from all over the world, and almost all have been around long enough to have seen what greed and corruption has done to their country. They want it to stop. They want to make things right.

    Raissa is the glue that holds it all together. She is warm and welcoming and encourages participation. Even hecklers are given their time of day (at their own risk, of course. There's a few feisty personalities in there). Her readers have found in her not only someone who can speak for them but also an opportunity to be heard themselves. In her blog, they have found they are not alone, that there are many of them out there who share the same dreams for their country. And Raissa is one of them. And so many more.

    That's what makes it all tick.

    Cha

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    1. It ticks well, and I've seen your comments there.

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    2. @ Anonymous,

      "Raissa is the glue that holds it all together. She is warm and welcoming and encourages participation. Even hecklers are given their time of day (at their own risk, of course. There's a few feisty personalities in there)."

      You are correct in your statement that "Raissa is the glue that holds it all together." I got interested in Raissa's blog through a recommendation of a friend in his FB account. I did have fun in reading and commenting too in her blog especially during Renato Corona's impeachment trial.( So much so that I even wrote some Tagalog poems using comments given out by CPMers.) What kept me continue in reading, commenting in her blog is her ardent quest to look for and search for the truth up to the extent of providing her readers with supporting documents. More importantly her encouragement and solicitations for outside help who can provide replies or answers to queries posted.

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    3. Ah yes, I remember the poems. Been missing reading them lately. I think you should bring them back.

      I like the idea of using poetry for social commentary. It takes some skill, but done well, it can be a powerful means of communication; it can elucidate, enlighten and inspire action. That you write yours in Tagalog and inject humor into it makes it even more potent. I'd love to see what you could do with say, the RH bill or the Congressmen and their SALNs.

      I hope I won't be waiting too long.

      Cha

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  4. Hi Joe, my comment on Raissa Robles blog today was deleted. I must be a heckler, all I pointed out was " history repeat itself" saying I'm sick of it, all the whinning, broken records like the "obra maestro" of the century. Philippines has been the same banana for more than 50 years and yet all these college idiots with perfect engliszt lol are harping the same old tune.. I don't think Raissa is no.1 blogger for that, apparently if she don't agree with your point of view, you do not belong to her blog.

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    1. Check comment 26 on topic With GMA Out On Bail... , it looks like the message you describe.

      Cha

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  5. BTW may the force be with you!

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  6. Dear Joe,

    I don't know what to say.

    Some of the CPMers told me that you posted this about me.

    Of course I'm pleased. But then again, I have to tell you I've not been a fan of your government, what it did here during the colonial period and immediately after granting the Philippines independence.

    I always distinguish, however, between your government and individual Americans. I like Robert Frost and e.e. cummings and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    In any case, thanks.

    I'm also writing here to straighten out something. My attention was called that a certain @chohalili is grousing that I deleted him or her.

    Reading at what I'm supposed to have deleted, I'm sure I didn't.

    I have been out the entire day and have only been able to look at my blog early this morning and now.

    Those who comment on my blog also know that sometimes there are glitches and their comments don't get registered in the cms (content management system). What they do is they just repost and tell me that their comments are not going through and ask me directly why.

    In any case, chohalili, ask yourself - why would I have deleted your comment if it did not even say anything really nasty? It's very tame compared to what has been posted before.

    Raissa

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    1. I'm not a fan of my government, either, for what it did during the Philippine American War, or even WW II, for that matter, The U.S. could have gone around the Philippines directly to Japan and saved a lot of death and destruction (the Navy plan; Roosevelt chose the Army plan). Not much good in bemoaning that which is done, however. A lot of good in learning from it. And the U.S. did. It's internal battles to get rid of racism, substantially won during the late 1900's, reset race awareness around the world. And there is much the U.S. has done that makes life around the world richer and better. Aaaaaand there is much today to criticize, its consumption and laggardness on global warming and its political extremism, on the rise.

      So both you and I have lots to write about.

      Good of you to visit. I think you've earned your place on top by good writing, welcoming and entering into discussion, and maintaining high standards of interpersonal exchange.

      Delete
  7. Dear Joe,

    Sorry to be posting on your site once more.

    I would just like to tell @chohalili the good news.

    A commenter named @cha found the post you said was deleted at #26 -

    here's the link -
    http://raissarobles.com/2012/07/25/with-gma-out-on-bail-the-2013-elections-just-got-more-interesting/#comment-68557

    Apparently, you had posted under another name - @chokutingting

    Maybe it's high time you meet your other self.

    Good luck.

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    1. ahihihi @ Ms Raissa..me & my otherself sync beautifuly!

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    2. chohalili, glad you and your alter ego got together without me entering the debate. I was snoozing . . .

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  8. Hello! I enjoy reading your whatever you have. This is another site I believe is worth reading. I hope you don't mind?

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  9. First time reading a blog of yours and comments at Raissa's, straight to the points, practical dealing of realities. No mincing of words. Could not agree more on your observations about how blogs must be presented, although, I only read GRP/Benigno and Dado once; disappointed on the comments in the former and appreciative mainly on the latter. Ellen Tordesillas is impressive mostly except when she reveals her own favoritism, most effective on being neutral. Would not comment about Raissa since, aside from Rappler, it is the only blog I engaged into. Rappler though very informative, it was more intellectually interactive among commenters when it was Newsbreak, the way Raissa is now.

    Society of Honor, is that an exclusive club or just the name of your blog? Reminds me of old exclusive all boys WASP or Jewish society, like Union League
    He he he

    Johnny Lin

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    1. It is the name of my blog, a "society" in the sense that it includes all who comment, not just me, and it is "of honor" in that we are sincere in working on our understandings, not in getting at each other's throats.

      Your readout of Ellen is very perceptive. I like Noemi Dado (.tv) because she seems to get unique materials and comments on subjects that are sensitive. A lot of "liberal" views are expressed. It seem fresher than other site, maybe a little edgier.

      Good to have you visit and comment.

      Delete
  10. my friend joeam is making a list of five most influential blogs in RP, and his blog, 'thesocietyofhonor and some others come 5th? whooaa...!!! and ellen tordesillas?- what has she written except flattering articles about the rightist coup-plotter, Senator Trillanes?

    joeam also listed GRP as 4th, but he lost not time in disparaging it for 'losing steam' and 'readers', 'too much potential' but little fulfillment.' but how does it come to be his '4th' most influential blog?... and if you ask Benign0 himself, he considers GRP the 'most influential' blog in the horizon. (with a wink).

    it's all about personal bias and perception... if you go to anti P-NOY blogsites, raissa robles is a fraud.. if you go to pro P-NOY blogs, raissa's blog tops the list. objectivity after all is colored by one's personal experience.

    how do we distill the right recipe for our salvation? who offers the truth and who is most perfidious? what is the truth is a biblical question.

    if i go to raissa's blog i am in the rightful company because i found lots of commenters there who shared my own views. but if i go to GRP, i found a couple who shared my views and lots who virulently and irreverently disagreed with me. the latter provides me entertainment, the former, validation of my own bias. the choice for the most inlfuential blog could be raissa, but i do not hold the 'truth' for others.

    should i rate raissa number 1 because of shared bias, and GRP less because it has its own bias opposite mine? i am not prepared to go this route. GRP has its own sets of readers who are ready to swear on the bible or the koran that this is the widely read blog in the country, and raissa has its own who are ready to swear on the same sets of documents to claim the honor. these two blogs, (and mine, incidentally) have their own sets of audience whose perception of the 'truth' are parameters apart.

    Further, MLQII, Ellen and Dado are non-starters. MLQII spouses elitist bias, Ellen and Dado spew mainstream views. You can learn from them if only you read PDI, GMA and ABS-CBN opinion writers/editorials. Why put up a blog when your message is no different from those who have the most efficient resources to shape the opinion of your target readers?

    As regards our American friends, we learn from them civil government, sanitation and health and education as incidental bonus for a costly imperial conquest speckled with blood of our ancestors. America came to RP in 1890's for business (buying it for 20 million dollars)and left in 1946 but with military bases intact after sealing a pact with Japan for the division of the gold booty and relics Japan had plundered from Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia, south China, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia.

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    1. Ah, jcc, friend indeed, who can call it straight. I thought I'd get more opinions like yours, figuring a blogger is a matter of personal taste, so many would disagree with my rendition. So what is your final take? Can you draw up a set of criteria for a "top blogger" award? Would it include popularity or not? Depth of research? Quality of writing? Originality (non-ABS.CBN)? You didn't give me your top five.

      As for American History and Filipino History, there are plenty of lessons there, indeed. I'll not wade into that here.

      Truly, thanks for being direct. It is most refreshing. Made me smile with satisfaction at what I managed to stir up.

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    2. Insight, literary sparks, brilliance, and relevance. These are my criteria. I haven't been on other blogs, only yours, Raissa, GRP, mine and PDI opinion writers. Before I used to read MLQII, Noemi and Ellen. I refrained from reading their blogs because I don't think they have something that suits my personal taste and style. There could be some other blogs of note but we are unaware of them because there are lots of them on the web that we care to read.

      I consider your output more artistic and rich literarily. Raissa is bland, straitjacketed by her journalistic ethics. She has yet to bloom literarily, but she has materials we don't have. She interviews newsmakers and got her data from sources direct from the horses's mouth. She has passion for the 'truth' and I perceived her to be incorruptible. You and I blog and write as a hobby. Writing is not our life support, we have no hidden agenda, we blog for art's sake and therefore more objective. ( I supposed).

      GRP has some good writers. They know their prose and syntax, but are short on facts, insight and depth. But they provide perspective that are non-mainstream. I read them nonetheless because I do not hold the absolute truth.

      I will rate PDI opinion writers number 1, your blog No. 2. Raissa No. 3, and GRP No. 4, until I read other blogs/writers that can disrupt my own personal ranking.

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    3. Those are superb criteria for individual preference. Admirable, actually. I was looking for a blogging force, though. Rather the "fifth estate" that some assign to blogging, to counter or do more than the fourth estate, popular mass media, do. So popular appeal was one of the criteria. I don't think most people gravitate to "literary expressions" and I think I fly beyond the understanding or taste of a lot of people. I'm extraordinarily pleased with the ranking you've assigned that humble and obnoxious Joe Am. I also enjoy reading your posts, and wish you'd do more. You have insights into the power structures of the Philippines that we transplants do not have.

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  11. Thanks for the kind words. Makes me wonder if I ought to take up the virtual pen again, despite my day job.

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    1. If you did, you'd make that blog roll over there in the right column. However, I suspect you have lots of opportunity to practice eloquence in that day job of which you speak. And thanks for introducing me to the "Mapping of the Revolution" project. I'd done a project on the Revolution a couple of years ago, focusing on Admiral Dewey, to better understand the personalities of the day and U.S., um . . . engagement. The documents of those days are also fascinating.

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  12. But one fears getting rusty --but the biggest obstacle is does one on a public payroll lose all street cred in the process?

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    1. Only among the 37% who think President Aquino is not their guy, heh. Also, at internet speed, I think "cred" depends a lot on what you wrote in your most recent blog. So you need not worry.

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