I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Whose voices?

Over at Filipino Voices, Jon Limjap puts forward these pithy observations:

I don’t like the way FilipinoVoices is being used to forward either racist (Obama = voodoo practicioner) or misogynist/chauvinist (Palin = just another vagina) views.

I don’t mind either posts because clearly, what happens to the United States has a lot to do with what happens to the Philippines, but can’t we have at least an objective discussion on these candidates, especially for the benefit of Filipinos who are not privy to the internal politics of the United States?

I mean, it’s already the 21st century, old people. Machismo and apartheid are not fashionable anymore.

I agree. But I also go beyond Jon’s misgivings to note my own apprehensions about FV which have been growing since the way the Ces Drilon incident affected the collective, and which was brought to a head by seeing Manuel Buencamino’s post.

When FV was started, it was a nice little tea-house where you could get the views of bloggers you might have never heard of before. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was the meat of their writing – and they wrote about everything.The way I understood it, the purpose of the collective was to strengthen the ‘alternative’ paradigm of blogging: giving mainstream readers the opportunity to soak up the thoughts and ideas of writers that they would never have found on their own. It had a punk sensibility that totally resonated with me.

Now, FV seems to be just another RSS feed where you can read established presences like Manuel Buencamino venting, and Ding Gagelonia practicing his brand of literary journalism, and Dean Jorge Bocobo pulpitizing. And of course, there was Ben Paypon spewing his racist drivel. WTF, right? And where have all the previously not-so-well-known originals gone?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but let me tell you, seeing all those big names has had an off-putting effect. As a reader, I keep wanting to read fresh perspectives; not clever variations on the same theme. As a writer, I don’t appreciate having to be under pressure to stay relevant to the current trend of essays being published. Of course there is no explicit pressure of that sort – nor even implicit – but it does get uncomfortable when you want to post about the Eraserheads and find that the pre-occupation du jour is the geopolitical ramifications of the American presidential derby and the consequences of federalism. In fact, the removal of the feature that shows new posts by the authors in their own blogs totally defeats one of the primary goals of FV: to introduce new readers to new authors. I have no problem with FV focusing primarily on politics and such, but that feature kinda balanced things out in that readers could actually choose to read about other things that the authors found worth writing about. But now, review the last few posts and you’ll see that FV has morphed into an online trade magazine – complete with letters to the Editor, no less, as if we had an Editor – with a one-tracked mind.

I was never really a heavy poster on FV, but going into that site used to serve up a brand new perspective, a brand new thing to get excited about, a brand new stimulus every single time. Now, I just find it monotonous – and yes, I am fully aware that I might be the only one who feels this way.

We talk about mainstream media and try to distinguish blogging from that; we call blogging new media – something of an alternative to the kind of pap you hear on teevee or read in the papers. But guess what? FV is NOT really alt anymore. Instead of being a true alternative, it feels like just an alternative version of mainstream.

Maybe FV has evolved beyond its original concept – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I tend to hanker for how the FV was before it underwent this transformation. Although personally, I don’t think its as much a matter of evolution as it is a matter of succumbing to the allure of the mainstream. And perhaps, also a little bit of the established writers wanting to get exposure in the alt scene. And with FV being noticed by mainstream media, I have to admit, it does make sense to want to be part of the collective.

Don’t get me wrong. Filipino Voices remains a smashing good site. If that’s the kind of thing you want. Myself, I find that the allure of being part of the collective has waned. FV used to represent the spirit of the underground paper – the subversive publication that gave a nod to the burning issues of the day and offered up biting commentary, but also gave space to the things that the broadsheets ignored as being not serious enough. I suppose it can still be like that; it all depends on the authors after all.

But like I said, you can’t expect the Sex Pistols to play Albert Hall all the time.


Filed under: blogging, , ,

8 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    Rom, I understand the misgivings, in fact, Patricio had the same observations when Carlo wrote a Hybrid Car post..

    With regards to the sidebar, missing the Feeds to the contributors’ content, that is still going to be a permanent fixture, we are still trying to implement a more clean and efficient way to deliver the feeds..

    Considering that we just started on April, we are still in the very beginnings of what we can become.

    I appreciate the thoughts, and I would hope you could shed more of what needs to be done.

    FV will not stagnate in its growth, and I am hoping that with the help of the contributors, we don’t let that happen.

    But still, as I have said, each writer/contributor contributes something that is uniquely his/her own. Whether it is the news style of articles coming from Ding, or the social commentary coming from Benign0, and even something as borderline hateful coming from Ben Paypon.. there is something to be said about each and every article, and the whole collective, I just don’t see it being done in MSM..

    First off, many of what is written on FV, just would not be written in MSM, just because it can, and does become a bit too edgy..

    That being said, I don’t disagree totally with you on these points. It’s hard to be a collective, when much of the collective does not share the same views or opinions, this is why, if there is a need for balance, then other writers must step in and fill that void.

    I feel strongly about the collaboration, only because so many more are coming into the fray that are hopeful that they can make a difference.

    If we are serious about getting things done, making a difference, having an impact, then these must just be setbacks and not an excuse to retreat into our own worlds.

    If new media is to be effective, we must harness the power of the collective.

    And if we are to succeed, when so much is stacked against us, then we must believe that we can overcome even the stumbles of a collaboration in its infancy.

    Are we throwing in the towel? Or are we asking ourselves, what we must do?

  2. Nick says:

    And you’re right, it does depend on the authors. Well.. come on down, you’re a contestant on “Let’s make a difference”!

  3. RJ says:

    i feel you, rom. and i miss reading articles you write for FV…but amidst all these, all the more that you need to add your voice to the collective, to give that breathe of fresh air, of fresh is true, you can make a difference..and there is no better time than now..write more..people are reading. i am. i will wait for your posts.. 🙂 more power to you, rom.

  4. rom says:

    rj: welcome to the smoking room! And thanks for your kind words. 😀

  5. Bencard says:

    i, for one, am glad there is FV and other blogs (not all) that welcome ANY point of view, whether for or against, profound or shallow, intelligent or idiotic, eloquent or fractured, sincere or pretentious. this is where “established presences” or “big names” who have the balls to post can be challenged and exposed as to the soundness of their ideas, accuracy, bias, ulterior motives and sheer ignorance. mainstream media doesn’t completely allow that. editors can be selective, judgmental, one-sided, too protective of their “opinion makers”, and unwilling to be proven wrong. what self-respecting columnist would want to publish an uncomplimentary, contrary opinion that refutes whatever it is he is saying?

    the mainstream media, and a few narrow-minded blogs that pollute cyberspace, are not what i consider a “free market of ideas” (in the words of u.s. sc justice holmes). FV and Smoke are.

  6. cvj says:

    I’m between your generation and theirs so i find the diversity and the resulting dialogue refreshing. After all, it’s not supposed to be ‘Young’ FV but simply FV.

  7. Anthony says:

    “Now, I just find it monotonous – and yes, I am fully aware that I might be the only one who feels this way.”

    No Rom, you’re not the only one. I used to visit FV every day, eager to find a new perspective but now it’s just a little too tedious. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why but perhaps your post explains it.

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