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 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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?|
- 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.